SaskPower announces 100-MW solar plant near Estevan

SaskPower said the solar energy project will produce enough electricity to power about 25,000 homes.

SaskPower says construction on the $200 million project is slated to begin next year, and the project is expected to go online in December, 2026.

This article was published by The Energy Mix on Jan. 23, 2024.

By Mitchell Beer

Iyuhána Solar LP has been selected to build a 100-megawatt solar facility, Saskatchewan’s biggest ever, near the city of Estevan, provincial utility SaskPower announced yesterday.

The C$200-million project is a partnership between New York-based Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure (GSI), Baden, Ontario’s Saturn Power Inc., and the Ocean Man First Nation, located about 80 kilometres north of the city, the Discover Estevan news site reports.

The deal gives the First Nation a 10 per cent ownership stake in the project, and “band members will receive specialized training to maintain solar facilities and employment opportunities with the project,” the Regina Leader-Post writes, citing Greenwood.

GSI said Iyuhána will also fund scholarships, internships, and clean energy research projects in the community.

Construction is slated to begin next year, and the project is expected to go online in December, 2026. SaskPower said it will produce enough electricity to power about 25,000 homes. Iyuhána Solar will permit, finance, build, own, maintain, and operate the project under a 25-year power purchase agreement with the utility, the local paper says.

The project “will bring great opportunities for Ocean Man First Nation, including employment and revenue that will provide stability and sustainability for our band,” said Ocean Man Chief Connie Big Eagle. She added that Iyuhána, which translates to “everyone” or “all of us” in Nakotah, is derived from her nation’s belief “that everyone and everything is related and therefore we must care for each other.”

“This new solar facility will play an important role in our path to net-zero by 2050 or sooner,” said SaskPower President and CEO Rupen Pandya. “We are proud of our ongoing collaboration with Indigenous peoples and the critical role they are playing in the successful expansion of renewable energy in our province.”

“This success is the result of a strong, collaborative partnership with Ocean Man First Nation along with the determination of many team members, helping to ensure that the Iyuhána Solar Project was selected to support changing the landscape of renewable energy in Saskatchewan and Canada for generations to come,” Greenwood CEO and Iyuhána director Mazen Turk said in a statement.

On its project website, SaskPower says Iyuhána is part of its effort to add up to 3,000 MW of wind and solar capacity by 2035. The province’s current generating capacity of 3,542 MW comes from three coal plants, including two near Estevan, five gas plants, seven hydropower stations, and two wind projects that contribute a combined 375 MW. The Leader-Post says a new 200-MW wind facility in Kipling is expected to be complete by the end of this year, and SaskPower is planning for another 600-MW renewable generation project in south-central Saskatchewan by 2027.

Estevan styles itself The Energy City, based on its long association with coal, oil, and gas. Almost three years ago, an analysis by economist Jim Stanford of the Centre for Future Work showed fossil fuels accounting for 20.1 per cent of the city’s direct employment in 2016, making it the country’s second-most fossil-dependent economy after Wood Buffalo/Fort McMurray, at 31.6 per cent.

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