SaskPower is aiming to generate 50 per cent of its power with renewable resources by 2030, and a large emphasis is being put on wind investment. SaskWind is making a proposal to get in on the action in the Rural Municipality (RM) of Swift Current with a first-time in North America approach.
“What’s particularly unique about this project is the community ownership aspect. So we intend to sell shares to members of the public,” SaskWind CEO and founder James Glennie explained.
SaskWind’s pitch is for a $90 million, 35 megawatt (MW) wind and solar project, and follows a business model he said is popular in Germany and Denmark. Glennie has been in contact with the RM for the past two years.
For the most part the talks have been private, but on Monday night SaskWind will be hosting an open house in Swift Current to educate the public. The goal is to find community investors to help put wind in the sails of the project.
Glennie said that Saskatchewan-based investors buying shares in the project can open the door to more local sub-contractors being hired onto building and maintenance.
SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh said the Crown corporation will have representatives at the meeting. They also plan on attending similar meetings around the province.
“It could be right at the centre of a major industry, which could employ up to 20,000 people over the next 15 years or so,” Glennie said.
The plant would sell electricity to SaskPower, and Glennie estimates it could make up to $100 million for the community over its 30 year lifespan.
However, SaskWind isn’t the only developer eyeing the Swift Current area for wind power.
The RM’s Reeve, Bob Neufeld, said “three or four” other parties have shown interest in the area’s wind potential.
Neufeld said the RM is “looking forward” to the potential investment and said they’ll be keeping constituent interest in mind at Monday’s meeting.
“If our rate payers our interested in this, that’s probably the number one factor we’ll be looking at,” Neufeld explained.
“If there’s good revenue it builds better roads and everything else, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
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SaskPower will be starting their call for proposal process on wind and solar projects in late 2016 and it will extend into the first quarter of 2017.
SaskPower Emission Goals
As part of the plan to get to 50 per cent renewables, SaskPower is looking to do a major cut to CO2 emissions, cutting 40 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030.
According to Environment Canada, Saskatchewan gave off 69.6 megatonnes of CO2 in 2005. Forty per cent of that is 41.76 megatonnes. However, the most recent numbers, from 2014, show Saskatchewan emitted just under 75 megatonnes of CO2.
In November, 2015 SaskPower was producing 25 per cent of its energy with renewables with 20 per cent coming from hydro and five per cent coming from wind. This represents 220 MW, and SaskPower has another 207 MW worth of wind power in development that’s expected to be online by 2020.
By 2030 the Crown is aiming to generate 1,800 MW through wind energy.
On the solar front, SaskPower is aiming to have to have 60 MW of solar power online by 2021, and jump to 300 MW by 2030.