Saskatchewan's New Right Wing Premier Desperately Wants Nuclear Mega-Project
Premier Brad Wall’s government inherited a healthy financial situation when he won election in November, 2007. With the price of oil at an all time high, the money just keeps rolling in and Wall is hungry for a mega-project or two that will continue the current good fortunes of his Saskatchewan Party.
What makes this interesting is the fact that Saskatchewan’s new right wing Premier is a free market fundamentalist. He claims that government will not pick 'winners and losers' in the Saskatchewan economy by using precious tax dollars.
Enter Bruce Power. The day after Ontario’s private nuclear operator Bruce Power was passed over for building new nuclear reactors at its site on Lake Huron, the company announced that it will carry out a “feasibility study” for the possible construction of a new nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan.
Wall is telling the press that any nuclear plant constructed in Saskatchewan would have to be built without public funds. Right. No taxpayers money in any such mega-project.
Well, in Ontario, Bruce Power leases a nuclear site from the provincial government. The lease agreement passes on full liability for such things as cost over-runs onto Ontario’s taxpayers. The Ontario government also agreed to build a $ 600 million dollar power line to transmit Bruce Power’s electricity to Toronto. It’s a great deal for Bruce Power. It’s a bad deal for individual taxpayers. Saskatchewan should beware.
The biggest part of Bruce Power’s ‘feasibility study’ will likely involve determining exactly what Wall is prepared to put on the table to sweeten any future nuclear deal between Saskatchewan and the company.
Greenpeace has rightly pointed out that the necessary size of a nuclear power plant compared to the relatively small demand for electricity in Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as the massive capital costs for a nuclear plant, make such a project a poor fit for Saskatchewan. But remember, newly minted Premier Brad Wall is desperate for a mega-project and he is flush with cash.
"They (Bruce Power) need in some way, shape or form government backing. Whether that comes in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees, performance guarantees, guaranteed contracts for electricity purchase, they're all forms of government support." said Dave Martin, energy co-ordinator for Greenpeace.