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Solar power agreement signed during talks for two new First Nation projects

A solar array, combined with a wind turbine battery storage, marked the first utility-scale hybrid solar and wind power site in Saskatchewan, located on Cowessess First Nation. It's the first known wind-solar battery storage project in the country.
A solar array, combined with a wind turbine battery storage, marked the first utility-scale hybrid solar and wind power site in Saskatchewan, located on Cowessess First Nation. It's the first known wind-solar battery storage project in the country. Colton Praill / Global News

An $85 million agreement has been signed by SaskPower and First Nations Power Authority (FNPA) which unlocks the development of 20 megawatts (MW) worth of new solar power projects.

The agreement will continue over 20 years and is part of SaskPower’s plan to add 60 MW of utility-scale solar power by 2021.

As part of that goal, SaskPower and Saturn Power are headlining a 10 MW Highfield Solar Project located southeast of Swift Current which is slated to be up and running by the end of 2020.

There are no contracts signed for new projects as of yet, however, FNPA has two in their sights.

A 10 MW project through the George Gordon and Starblanket Cree Nation and a 10 MW project led by the Cowessess First Nation is also under consideration.

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READ MORE: Solar power installation complete on Cowessess First Nation

“FNPA is proud of the planning, time, and resources committed by George Gordon and Starblanket Cree Nation advancing towards building their 10 MW solar farm,” said FNPA CEO Guy Lonechild in a release.

“We are highly confident that this project will serve as a shining example of how Indigenous-led power projects can meet the need of SaskPower’s electricity demands for clean sources of renewable energy.”

“Cowessess Ventures Ltd. is proposing a project at an on-reserve location, which will maximize existing local indigenous experience and further demonstrate its place as a leader in Saskatchewan’s renewable energy industry,” he said.

The FNPA was created to further the development of First Nations‐led power projects while promoting Indigenous participation in projects with SaskPower.

“We are committed to progressive Aboriginal relations and procurement at SaskPower and we look forward to working with FNPA as we expand our solar capacity in this province,” said Mike Marsh, president and CEO of SaskPower.

The project will allow for growth in Saskatchewan’s power grid while aiming to lower emissions to 2005 levels by 2030.

READ MORE: Ottawa announces plan to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030

“SaskPower is proud to enter into another agreement with FNPA to secure projects that will contribute to our goal of growing our grid while, at the same time, reducing our overall emissions profile,” Marsh said.

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To make the projected 60 MW in projects goal, 20 MW is set to come through community-based projects, according to SaskPower.

An additional 10 MW project is in the ‘request for proposal’ phase.

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