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Wind energy project switches gears

It’s been a couple years now since a group began advocating for a private wind project outside of Saskatoon.

Now, Saskatoon Community Wind is refocusing its energy and rebranding itself to better reflect its objectives, says founder James Glennie.

“The basic concept hasn’t changed,” said Glennie – a 10-turbine communityowned development financed by $50-million in private investment that could generate 63 million kilowatt-hours annually (enough to power 7,500 homes). The idea is for people to buy shares, build a 10-turbine farm near Saskatoon, or another community, then sell the electricity to SaskPower. Profits would then be returned to the shareholders.

What is changing is the name, to Saskatchewan Community Wind (SCW), and who the group is targeting with its message. Instead of just looking at Saskatoon, the new name is meant to appeal to the province as a whole with the idea a project like this could work in many communities.

“I think we were trying to appeal to the wrong people,” said Glennie, the SCW’s technical and financial lead. “Rather than (target) the decision makers, we need to appeal to the public.”

While many other jurisdictions around the world are expanding their wind energy capacity, Saskatchewan has remained stagnant at about 2.8 per cent, Glennie said.

So far (SWC) has met with resistance from elected members at the civic and provincial levels. In the past Glennie has told The Star-Phoenix that SaskPower’s high transmission and connection charges make the economics difficult. And city council rejected a suggestion it purchase $40,000 in equity and a seat on the board.

As an example, Glennie said in the past month the United States has stated it now gets five per cent of its energy from wind power.

So instead of talking with the policy-makers, Community Wind will focus on getting their message out to the people.

“We need to show there is public support,” Glennie said.

They have put together new team with specific skills in areas such as social media, marketing, IT and property management. Glennie said not only is wind an economically viable technology, it is a multimillion-dollar opportunity for Saskatchewan and its residents.

And despite getting little response from the city and provincial officials, he is confident wind energy will be expanded in the near future.

“I’m very optimistic,” Glennie said. “You look around the world and it is changing rapidly,” he said. “(Wind energy) is going to happen.

“It’s just about honing our message.”

Saskatchewan Community Wind’s new website is saskwind.ca.