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New leader of Canada’s New Brunswick Liberals breaks ranks with the party’s previous support for Small Nuclear Reactors

New Liberal leader questions small nuclear reactors. Susan Holt says it’s not clear the technology is a responsible energy solution

Jacques Poitras · CBC News · Aug 10, 2022 

The new leader of the New Brunswick Liberals is questioning whether small modular nuclear reactors are the answer to the province’s energy needs, a more cautious stance than her party’s previous full-throated support for the technology.

Susan Holt said after winning the leadership Saturday that while the potential jobs created by SMRs would be good for the province, she was looking for more evidence they were the right bet for clean energy.

“It’s an interesting project on the economic development level … but I’m not sure it’s the solution for electricity generation for our province,” Holt told reporters.

“I think it’s not clear yet if it will really give us energy in a way that’s responsible and efficient with our investments, so there’s still more to determine there.”

Two companies based in Saint John, ARC Clean Energy and Moltex Energy, have received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding to develop reactors………..

Last year the province handed ARC $20 million, while Moltex received more than $50 million from the federal government.

The previous provincial Liberal government gave each of them $5 million.

Holt held the title of chief of business relationships at the Jobs Board secretariat under then-Liberal Premier Brian Gallant at the time ARC and Moltex got that initial funding.

Both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have been enthusiastic supporters of SMRs until now, ………………..

at legislative committee hearings in January, former N.B. Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas and officials from Saint John Energy warned that SMRs may not be ready in time to replace electricity from the Belledune generating station, which must stop using coal by 2030.


Louise Comeau, the director of climate change and energy solutions for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, welcomed Holt’s comments.

“It sounds to me like the new leader is open to more information and analysis, which is what we desperately needed on the question of small modular nuclear reactors,” she said.

“We’ve been more in a phase of hype and boosterism. … I think what she’s said is we need to have more information, we need to look at all options, and we would really agree with that. Wind and solar and efficiency and other options all have to be part of the portfolio.” 

Susan O’Donnell, a member of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick, said she was happy Holt was “reading the independent research about SMRs instead of the nuclear industry sales and promotional materials.”…………………..

In January, the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank, released a report that said small nuclear reactors would be more expensive and generate less electricity than a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/susan-holt-questions-small-nuclear-reactors-1.6545007

August 9, 2022 - Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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