Alward met with Stephen Harper during a stop in Amherst, N.S., on Wednesday.
The premier said despite the lack of a commitment from Harper, the dialogue continues.
"The discussion is there," Alward said. "That's what I believe is the most important thing at this time."
Work by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., to refurbish the aging Candu reactor is about three years behind schedule and $1 billion over the original $1.4-billion budget.
The work is intended to extend the life of Atlantic Canada's only nuclear power plant by another 25 years.
"By fall, we'll see Lepreau back and that's our first priority," Alward said.
Alward said he doesn't expect a deal with Ottawa before the reactor returns to service.
He said once it's producing power again, then he'll try to get Ottawa or AECL to come to the table.
The prime minister did not take questions from reporters following his stop in Amherst.
Alward said they also discussed the economy and he raised his government's concerns over the effect of proposed Employment Insurance changes on seasonal industries and seasonal workers.