Canadian Manufacturing

French firm vying for new nuke power plant

French nuclear engineering group Areva says it still wants to build a second nuclear power plant in New Brunswick despite a warning from some that the extra power isn't needed



FREDERICTON—Almost a year after the idea was proposed, French nuclear engineering group Areva says it still wants to build a second nuclear power plant in New Brunswick despite a warning from some that the extra power isn’t needed in the province.

Jean-Francois Beland, executive vice-president of Areva Canada, said in a recent interview that despite a slump in recent years in the demand for export power into the northeast United States, the demand is on the rise again.

“There really is a market and the northeast United States’s need for power is back,” he said. “Since the recession in 2008 … the demand is back for power.”

The company signed a letter of intent last July with the previous Liberal government in the province to study the feasibility of a light-water reactor and other energy sources, including wind, solar and biomass.

The new reactor would be built next to the existing Candu-6 heavy-water reactor at Point Lepreau, just west of Saint John.

Beland said there has been an initial meeting with the new government and more discussions are planned for later this month.

“We have a lot of work to do, the three parties: NB Power, the province of New Brunswick and us,” Beland said.

Conservative Energy Minister Craig Leonard said he’s interested in Areva’s proposal but there would have to be a solid business case for it to proceed.

“We want to sit down with anyone interested in coming in and see what they can bring to the table for New Brunswick,” Leonard said.

“That being said, it’s a situation where in New Brunswick we don’t really need any new generation in the immediate future, but we also have to look at the long-term.”

Jeannot Volpe, co-chairman of a commission enlisted by the Tory government to develop a 10-year energy plan for the province, said he’s hearing from different groups around the province that such a project isn’t needed.

“We’re being told by NB Power that we probably don’t need anything new for 15 to 20 years, so we have plenty of time to look at other projects of this type,” Volpe said Monday.

He said other groups say small, local projects using such energy sources as biomass will meet any generation requirements.

“They’re saying, ‘Please don’t start any big projects because we can produce all the energy you want and you will spread the wealth around the province,”‘ Volpe said.

Premier David Alward has offered little comment on the prospect of a second nuclear reactor in the province, saying instead that his priority is getting the existing reactor at Point Lepreau back in service.

That project is running three years behind schedule and $1 billion over budget. Once completed in the fall of 2012, the project is intended to extend the life of the reactor by 25 years.

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