Thursday, September 17, 2009

Too costly

It's definitely for the best that the overwhelming public outcry over the Sask Party's nuclear agenda has forced even Brad Wall to acknowledge some of the main problems with nuclear power. But considering that Wall still doesn't apparently see those as reasons to stop pushing ahead, there's still plenty of work to be done:
Nuclear power may be too large and too costly for a province like Saskatchewan, which needs to keep its energy options open, Premier Brad Wall said Wednesday.
In an interview before Wednesday's cabinet meeting at the legislature, Wall did not close the door on nuclear power, saying it was still on the agenda.

But while the high costs of nuclear reactor construction are nothing new, he said there are factors that have led to the increased concern over price.

Those include the cost of upgrading the province's transmission system to accommodate the large scale of a reactor, uncertainty around the ability to export the power generated and the increasing potential of electricity generation from natural gas that could remain cheap for some time to come.
"That is one of the challenges of nuclear power. . . . The cost is significant enough that it may just, on a de facto basis, rule out pursuing some of the rest of the envelope, the rest of the options, including clean coal, which is not an inexpensive technology," said Wall.

The premier said it would be a mistake for a government-owned electrical utility such as SaskPower to be reliant on a single source of power. The government envisions a mix of energy sources -- including clean coal, natural gas and renewables such as wind power -- in the province's power supply.
Needless to say, the problem with Wall's seeming recognition of the problems with nuclear power is that it's contradicted by his actions. Even ignoring the other issues which Wall downplays, there's no apparent reason to think that the actual cost of nuclear construction will drop before the end of the year when Wall wants to be able to commit Saskatchewan to reactor construction. And there's absolutely no way around the fact that the proposals floated so far would make Saskatchewan almost entirely dependent on nuclear power.

So Wall seems to have accepted all the premises behind the NDP's position that the only decision he can validly make is to nix the idea of nuclear power - while at the same time refusing to acknowledge the resulting conclusion. Which means there's reason for suspicion that he's looking for little more than excuses to falsely declare the cost issue resolved (presumably through the Sask Party's usual creative accounting) rather than actually dealing with the obvious concerns of Saskatchewan's citizens.

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