Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith on Nov. 20 in Regina. YouTube

 

REGINA – Finding your way through the incredibly complex path of licensing and building nuclear reactors is not for the faint of heart. SaskPower has someone to turn to for assistance.

On Nov. 20, Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith, Ontario Power Generation president and CEO Ken Hartwick and OPG subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners were present in Regina to sign a “master services agreement” with SaskPower president and CEO Rupen Pandya and Minister of Crown Investments Dustin Duncan, who is also Minister Responsible for SaskPower.

It’s part of a collaboration between Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta on the development and deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs). Small, however, is a bit of a misnomer, as the 300 megawatt-scale units Saskatchewan and Ontario are developing are each roughly equal in capacity to SaskPower’s Shand Power Station near Estevan.

Crown Investments Corp and SaskPower Minister Dustin Duncan on Nov. 20 in Regina. YouTube

 

Duncan said, “Saskatchewan is committed to building a clean energy future, while protecting the sustainability reliability and affordability of our power system. Saskatchewan’s path to a sustainable energy future is well underway, but not without challenges. The challenges are logistical, technological and financial in nature. But where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. For many years Ontario has been a valued partner across many sectors, or two provinces share a common vision of Canada’s energy future. And a core part of this vision is the role nuclear power can play.

“Our ongoing collaboration with industry, utilities and other provinces and levels of government is an important path towards the potential deployment of SMRs in Saskatchewan. The agreement, announced today, is designed to establish a strategic partnership between SaskPower Laurentis Energy Partners, and Ontario Power Generation. Together, our provinces are taking meaningful steps on our shared path towards a sustainable and reliable energy future.”

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Smith said, “For more than a half a century, nuclear energy has played a critical role in Ontario’s electricity grid. Fifty-two years ago, Units 1 and 2 at Pickering came online. And since then, the role of nuclear on Ontario’s grid has only grown. And it’s helped our province transition off of coal. It’s proven itself as a safe and reliable and clean source of baseload electricity. And it’s providing more than 50% of our electricity each and every day. But it’s the promise of nuclear power that has gotten us to where we are and it’s going to continue.

“We’re not stopping at just the facilities that we have up and running now in Ontario. It’s going to help power future economic growth, electrification, and our growing population in Ontario and that’s why, as Minister of Energy for the province of Ontario, I’ve got to tell you, it’s great to be here to celebrate the important work that’s happening right now in the nuclear energy sector in Ontario and Saskatchewan.”

He noted in March of 2022, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and New Brunswick released the strategic plan for the development of small modular reactors, saying, “And look at where we are today. A lot has happened since then. Ontario has announced that we’re moving ahead with not just the first grid-scale SMR in the G7, but actually four, on the site at Darlington new nuclear.

“And our collaboration and leadership and new nuclear technologies, particularly when it comes to SMRs, is creating new opportunities in a growing and resurgent nuclear industry. And today we’re taking that a step further.

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“I’m so pleased to see Laurentis Energy Partners, an OPG subsidiary, and SaskPower enter into this five year master services agreement, which will support the potential SMR deployment here in Saskatchewan. Laurentis Energy Partners as well placed to provide the knowledge and expertise when it comes to these major projects, including licensing, program management and operational readiness. With job creators looking for affordable, reliable, and clean energy. SMRs will continue to help build a clean energy advantage and help us secure new investments that will support business and create jobs in both of our great provinces.”

SaskPower president and CEO Rupen Pandya. YouTube

Pandya said spoke of how this marks another milestone for SMR development. He said, “More and more countries, states, provinces, cities and communities are taking it upon themselves to learn more about nuclear power as a Clean Energy Initiative. And Saskatchewan is no exception.

“We’re working as fast as we can to meet the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and by exploring a range of low and zero carbon emitting nuclear power.

“Wherever our path forward takes us, or whatever it looks like, the reality we face right now is that the energy sector is facing its most profound transition in over 100 years. And SaskPower is no different. SaskPower is faced with transforming an electric system that took us over 95 years to build, and it’s a massive transition, of course, the minister noted earlier comes with significant challenges.

“But as the minister noted, within there with it with every great challenge, there is significant opportunity. And today’s partnership agreement is a testament to this an opportunity for collaboration, which I believe is critical to our journey towards net-zero. Ontario Power Generation and Laurentis Energy Partners represent decades of experience and expertise in Canada’s nuclear industry. And while we’ve worked with OPG for several years on our small modular reactor project, today’s agreement allows SaskPower to further tap into that experience and gain valuable insight around what it is to be a licensed nuclear operator in Canada will gain access to layers of incredibly useful regulatory knowledge and best practice.

“This agreement creates the opportunity to share the best of what we have ideas, lessons learned, and the skills of our people. By signing this agreement today, we’re doing our part to contribute to a brighter and cleaner energy future for generations to come. The world is watching us right now. And we look forward to working with our partners Laurentis Energy Partners and OPG on this important transition.”

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Hartwick said, “We have a long experience in nuclear, with of over 50 years of successfully running our nuclear facilities and are now on our path to build our own SMRs on our Darlington site, to have them up and operational late ‘28 or early ‘29.

So it’s real; the technology is real, and the impact it can have on our all our climate goals is real.

“But really one of the words you said is really important is that this is a partnership with SaskPower. So by entering into the master services agreement, it really sets up a partnership between two companies that have a very similar ethos and a very similar way to things. And as much as we’ll bring some of our nuclear background to the to this partnership, we’ll learn a lot as well. And actually think it will make our project on our Darlington site more successful because of the great teams you have in place that we can also then take and learn from.

“So the partnership part is really, really important to us. I think we can do something together that is very special and advanced both the new nuclear development in Ontario as well as the initial development here in in Saskatchewan. So this is a partnership that I think is going to be very dynamic and continue to evolve over the next number of years, and it’s something that we are really looking forward to being able to tap into all the skill and expertise that SaskPower brings to brings to us, so that collectively we can do something here that is very special, both for our two provinces, but I think also for Canada as a country as well.”

In responding to reporters, Hartwick said, “This is going to be very cost competitive with any form of electricity. We get asked a lot, ‘Can nuclear be done on time and on budget?’

“For those that don’t know, we are refurbishing our Darlington station, so it’s a 3,800 megawatt station. And we are we just finished the last reactor 169 days ahead of schedule, and under budget. So nuclear can be done the right way. And I’m very confident with the partners we have at SaskPower that this will be the same here.”

He added, “We have a lot of the technical background on impact assessment work that might need to be done, on technical design, on how you site a reactor, the issues around siting an SMR building. So again, we’re a couple of years into our process with our technology, as well as then ultimately building out an operational capability.

“And the goal of OPG and Laurentis in this is to build out all this capability here. So, it’s in a way, to work ourselves out of a job is what the intention is. We know we have great universities here in Saskatchewan. You have a highest high skilled workforce at SaskPower. It’s to just bring what we’ve already done and have that expertise picked up by people here.”

 

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