In the heart of the golden south of Saskatchewan, the province’s largest wind facility to date had its grand opening on Tuesday.
In an era of climate catastrophes, renewable energy facilities like the new one that just opened up near Assiniboia are offering optimism for a greener, cleaner and more sustainable future.
Providing up to 200 megawatts (MW) of emission-free power to the province’s power grid, the Golden South Wind Facility includes 50 turbines, which can power up to 100,000 homes.
Potencia Renewables is the company that owns the amenity and is responsible for its construction, maintenance and operations. It has been working closely with SaskPower on this project and the Saskatchewan Crown corporation will be purchasing the energy from Potencia to feed into their grid.
“The completion of Golden South brings us to a total of 10 wind generation facilities here in Saskatchewan. We have four additional renewable projects underway right now, including three solar facilities and another facility,” said Troy King, SaskPower interim CEO.
SaskPower’s power grid now includes 680 MW of wind and solar energy. If you include hydro power, 30 per cent of Saskatchewan’s energy now comes from cost-effective renewables.
SaskPower Minister Don Morgan said the facility is a big leap forward for the province’s climate action plan.
“The province is set to decrease its greenhouse emissions by more than 50 per cent from 2005 levels by the year 2030, and is looking forward to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Morgan said.
Delayed by supply chain issues and pandemic restrictions, it took more than two years to construct the facility.
However, the $350 million project is now operational and ready to serve the province for at least the next 25 years. After that quarter century mark, Saskpower can choose to either renew their contract with Potencia, or deconstruct the facility.
Additionally, the wind project has more than just environmental benefits to offer.
“Our general contractors Borea directly contracted $3.5 million of material and services with local businesses, their subcontractors did many more,” said Ben Greenhouse, Potencia Growth vice-president.
“Borea alone generated more than 30,000 hours of labour by 35 Indigenous employees on their payroll and countless others for their other Saskatchewan team members,” he added.
The surrounding rural municipalities and town of Assiniaboia expressed gratitude for the facility being constructed in their region.
“In a time when businesses were closing, small towns becoming smaller, this community was thriving,” stated Sharon Schauenberg, Assiniboia mayor.
“I can say that this is exactly what we needed as 2020 and 2021 have been some of the toughest economical times we’ve seen in a long time,” Schauenberg said.
In terms of next steps, SaskPower has launched a competition to find a vendor to build the province’s largest solar facility in the Estevan region.
Estevan was chosen because of its abundance of sunny days, proximity to suitable transmission infrastructure and the relatively flat landscape.
According to SaskPower, at 100 MW, the upcoming facility will be ten times the capacity of Saskatchewan’s current largest solar plant and will provide clean power for up to 25,000 homes.