Saturday, June 27, 2009

The reviews are in

Bruce Johnstone:
Many presenters criticized the consultations for being narrowly focused on the UDP report, which itself was narrowly focused on the potential for adding value to Saskatchewan's uranium resource.

Time and time again, presenters raised the problem of trying to debate the nuclear energy issue in a vacuum. If there's nothing else to compare it to, how can we say whether it's good or bad, they said.

This is a legitimate point and speaks to the need for a full-blown study on the province's energy options, from nuclear and clean-coal to renewables and everything in between.

More importantly, the costs of the nuclear option are anything but clear.

Numbers have been bandied about ranging from $5 billion to $10 billion and higher. And that's just for the capital cost of building the plant. That doesn't include operating costs or waste fuel disposal.

No decision can be made to approve an expenditure of that magnitude without knowing what the total costs are of such a plant.
Finally, what has changed from 31/2 years ago when the president and CEO of Cameco Corp., a major shareholder of Bruce Power, said building a nuclear plant in Saskatchewan made no economic sense?

Back in 2006, Jerry Grandey told a nuclear conference in Regina that building a 1,000 -1,500 MW nuclear plant in Saskatchewan could not be justified based on current load growth, the relatively small size of Saskatchewan's grid and the absence of export markets for the surplus power.

"In the short-term, development of a large-scale (nuclear) plant in Saskatchewan is not, in my opinion, a likely scenario," Grandey said.

Until someone can show me that something has changed in the past three years to make nuclear -- ahead of all other options -- the best source for new baseload electrical power in Saskatchewan, I shall remain a skeptic.

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