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SaskPower releases ‘Year in Review’ report for 2021

SaskPower reports that they are ahead of their commitment, made in 2015, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030
Wind Farm in Saskatchewan (chinaface iStock Getty Images Plus Getty Images)
Wind farm across fields in Saskatchewan

SaskPower has released its annual report for 2021 and is highlighting its investment in infrastructure upgrades and its progress toward using more renewable energy sources.

The Crown Corporation estimates that its investment in transmission line upgrades, rural line rebuilds, underground line replacements, wood pole replacements, and more will total around $272 million.

SaskPower projects in Moose Jaw include:

  • LED streetlight replacements, which will reduce maintenance and environmental impact while increasing lifespan. The replacement LEDs will also have a softer light that interferes less with sleep patterns and causes less light pollution in the sky
  • Underground cable replacements in Sunningdale and Westheath
  • Regina to Moose Jaw system reinforcements that will allow easier on-demand power distribution for renewable energy
  • The Great Plains Power Station southeast of the city, scheduled to come online in 2024 and provide 360 megawatts (MW) of natural gas-generated power

Just over 400MW of renewable energy is scheduled to come online before the end of SaskPower’s fiscal year on March 31. That includes the following projects:

  • Meadow Lake Tribal Council’s Bioenergy Centre, which will burn residual biomass from the nearby sawmill to generate 8 megawatts of power
  • Partnerships with the First Nations Power Authority and the Government of Canada to add 20MW of solar power at the Pesakastew and Awasis solar facilities
  • The Golden South wind farm near Assiniboia, which will provide 200MW
  • The Blue Hill wind farm near Herbert, which will provide 177MW

Supply chain issues have delayed the start of Saskatchewan’s first battery energy storage facility. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2021, but it hasn’t started yet.

“We’re still working on the procurement process for that. It’s the first of its kind for Saskatchewan, they’re a new technology in general,” said Joel Cherry, SaskPower spokesperson. Cherry added that being able to store renewable-generated power would be increasingly important for the future and that SaskPower is determined to get the project right.  

Canada is a founding member of the global Powering Past Coal Alliance. As part of its commitment to that alliance, which numbered over 120 national, provincial, state, and city governments as of March 2021, the federal government passed regulations in Dec. 2018 to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity. Canada also now requires higher emissions standards for natural gas-fired electricity generation.

“The federal government has mandated that all conventional coal generation has to be phased out by 2030,” Cherry said, “and actually, most of our coal facilities are approaching retirement age at that point.”

Cherry said that Boundary Dam unit #4 was retired in December, meaning that the province’s largest coal-fired power plant is already well on its way to full shutdown. Unit #3 at Boundary Dam has been equipped with carbon capture technology which stops over 90% of emissions from that generator. This will allow unit #3 to continue through the 2030 mandate.

“Natural gas is still very important,” Cherry said. “We need to have reliable power that’s available 24/7, because with renewables, wind and solar anyway, they’re only available when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining.”

SaskPower reports that they are ahead of their commitment, made in 2015, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. Cherry said that 2005 levels of emissions had been reached as of 2020.

“In 2021, SaskPower announced that we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, which exceeds the commitment we made in 2015 to reduce emissions by 40%,” said Troy King, interim president and CEO of SaskPower. “Beyond that, we are targeting net-zero emissions by 2050. We will get there by continuing to invest in renewables and evaluating the full range of low- or zero-emissions power sources available.”