WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has now joined forces with the governments of New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan as a signatory to the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Memorandum of Understanding; and
WHEREAS these provinces have collectively agreed to collaborate on the advancement of SMRs as a clean energy option to address climate change and regional energy demands, while supporting economic growth and innovation; and
WHEREAS the SMR feasibility study concludes that the development of SMRs would support domestic energy needs, curb greenhouse gas emissions and position Canada as a global leader in this emerging technology; and
WHEREAS there is a need for the public to be provided with more information and education on SMRs which is essential in helping them to understand, comprehend and support this emerging and innovative technology;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta encourage and collaborate with the Government of Alberta to create an awareness campaign to engage with the public on information related to nuclear technology and small modular reactors specifically.
Small modular reactors are nuclear fission reactors, small in size and power output and portable, which function as a power source. SMRs produce significant energy while using a small footprint without emitting greenhouse gases during generation. Given Canada’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2030, SMRs may provide one feasible solution to meeting this ambitious goal.
In August of 2020, Alberta signed on to a memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, supporting the advancement and deployment of SMRs. Premier Jason Kenney noted the potential to power remote communities, the opportunity for economic diversification and the potential for job creation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
With both the federal and provincial governments supporting SMRs, it will be essential that a strong partnership between government, industry and stakeholders be forged. Public acceptance will also be crucial and there is a strong need to educate Albertans about the merits and benefits of this form of energy.
If nuclear technology is to advance within Canada, the need to educate the public is of the utmost importance starting now.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
In Alberta, electricity generation is developed and financed entirely by private investment. Developers determine the size, fuel source, and location of new generation facilities based on a variety of factors, including the cost and performance of different technologies. Typically, Alberta power generation projects must be approved for operations prior to their implementation by Alberta’s regulatory authorities. However, the federal government regulates all nuclear energy projects in Canada, including SMRs. The Ministry of Energy is working with federal and provincial regulators, including the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Alberta Utilities Commission, and Alberta Energy Regulator to better understand the process for potential SMR development in Alberta.
In April 2021, the Government of Alberta signed a memorandum of understanding with New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan to support the development and deployment of SMRs. The participating provinces are currently developing a strategic plan for SMR development, scheduled to be released in early 2022. In addition, the Ministry of Energy is collaborating with Alberta Innovates to connect stakeholders to organizations like Invest Alberta, Natural Resources Canada, Prairies Economic Development Canada and CSA Group.
RMA appreciates Alberta Energy’s response outlining the collaboration between the federal government, Alberta Innovates, and other provinces that has been undertaken to develop a strategic plan for SMR development. With both the federal and provincial governments supporting SMR’s, it will be essential that a strong partnership between government, industry, and stakeholders be forged. However, public acceptance will also be crucial and there is a strong need to educate Albertans about the merits and benefits of this form of energy.
In March 2022, the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Ontario released their joint strategic plan on SMR deployment. The plan includes a small section on public engagement with a particular focus on education in Saskatchewan and Alberta due to the lack of existing nuclear facilities in each province. However, the plan does not reference municipalities in any way, either as the targets of engagement or potential promotional partners for SMR technology.
RMA assigns this resolution a status of Intent Not Met, as the response solely focuses on the partnerships being developed with the federal government and industry and does not indicate that the Government of Alberta will create a public awareness campaign. RMA will continue to advocate for the development of a public awareness campaign and is happy to collaborate on it to ensure that the rural municipal perspective is present and that SMR information is being distributed to rural residents.