I alluded briefly in this post to a discussion about SaskPower's options for new generating capacity. The article focuses mostly on SaskPower's decision to pursue natural gas, wind generation, waste heat recovery and biomass rather than clean coal to meet the province's capacity needs over the next five years. But here's what Dan D'Autremont - Sask Party's chosen spokesman on the subject, and not coincidentally the same MLA who let the party's mask slip when it came to the Crowns - had to say:
(D'Autremont) added the Calvert government has its "blinders on" when it comes to nuclear power and other options that could provide safe and secure energy for the future "We need to be looking at all of the technologies, including nuclear, to see what's economically viable."Let's mostly leave aside the questions of whether nuclear power is either economically viable in the first place, or realistically capable of being constructed quickly enough to meet the demand discussed in the article. (Though in brief, the answer is "no" on both counts - even if there always seems to be some nuclear apologist willing to massage cost projections enough to try to pretend otherwise when it comes to the cost factor.)
What's particularly striking is that while D'Autremont attempts to paint the NDP as refusing to consider "all of the technologies", he doesn't seem able to name a single source other than nuclear that the Sask Party would see as a viable option. Which provides a strong hint that given the chance, the Sask Party would be looking for excuses to bring nuclear power into the picture regardless of the ready availability of a myriad of other sources.
Needless to say, that figures to be a political loser for Brad Wall and his troops if it becomes an issue. There's obviously little (if any) natural constituency which would be attracted to the Sask Party based on a desire to see nuclear power plants in Saskatchewan, particularly with the province's utility rates already the lowest in the country.
Meanwhile the NDP, which has already been working to burnish its environmental credentials (particularly over the last year), would surely welcome the chance to argue against the risks of both nuclear power generation and the resulting waste. And an imminent danger of nuclear power could make any frustration with the NDP's willingness to develop the uranium mining industry seem relatively inconsequential in comparison.
We'll see whether D'Autremont's comment will simply be ignored in the longer term, or whether a debate on the subject will actually materialize. But if the Sask Party continues to want to see nuclear energy put at the top of the list of options, then there's every reason to think that in addition to harboring a desire to attack the province's existing Crowns, Wall and company are also severely wanting in judgment as to what the province should look to build for itself in the future. And that can only help the NDP's effort to point out the similarities between Wall and the PC government he once assisted.