N.B. needs electricity reform—not political pressure to invest in unproven SMRs

Wind, solar, storage, efficiency, and transmission interties are the best pathway to energy security, says Conservation Council

Traditional territory of the Wabanaki Peoples/Fredericton — New Brunswick can build a secure, affordable and sustainable electricity system today without gambling on risky, unproven small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technology.

That’s the message the Conservation Council’s Dr. Louise Comeau, Director of Climate Solutions, and Moe Qureshi, Manager of Climate Campaigns and Policy, gave to members of the legislature’s standing committee on climate change and environmental stewardship as it holds hearings this week on small modular nuclear reactors and climate action.

Comeau says investing in a portfolio of electricity supply options is critical to managing electricity transition risk at least cost. Transition off fossil fuels to make electricity over the next decade is essential to climate action. But so is replacing that power at least-cost to ratepayers and the environment. 

“We risk political interference that undermines the Electricity Act,” says Comeau. “As the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) also considers NB Power’s request for an 8.9 per cent increase this week, it is important to see the link between the SMR hearings and the EUB rate increase hearings.” 

To do that, Comeau says, we need to learn lessons from New Brunswick’s experience with Point Lepreau. 

The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station is a costly and unreliable source of electricity relative to NB Power’s post-refurbishment expectations. The EUB determined that the refurbishment was not in the public interest, but the government overruled the EUB. 

The outcome is that NB Power has higher capital costs and debt than budgeted, is burning more dirty and expensive fossil fuels than it should, paying more carbon tax than it needs to, and buying high-priced power on the open market to meet winter peak demands. 

“We risk repeating past mistakes with SMRs, an unproven technology promoted under the guise of economic development,” Comeau says. “NB Power is not in the business of economic development. It is in the business of generating reliable, affordable and sustainable power.”  

Qureshi, a renewable energy expert, says smart energy policy paired with aggressive investments in home energy-efficiency retrofits, will ensure electricity stays affordable for low-to-moderate income New Brunswickers.

“If we make the right choices today, we can set New Brunswick on a path toward an electricity system that is the best at protecting citizens from soaring energy costs, the best at providing citizens with reliable, secure energy when they need it, and the best at protecting us and future generations from the effects of climate change—because we’re not making the problem worse,” says Qureshi.


  • See the Conservation Council’s presentation, including our full list of recommendations, here.
  • Learn more about our Electricity Vision for affordable, reliable, sustainable energy in N.B., here.


To arrange an interview, contact:

Jon MacNeill, Communications Director | jon.macneill@conservationcouncil.ca | 506-238-3539

Share this Post

Scroll to Top