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A Montreal-based renewable energy developer has eyes on establishing a wind energy project in the area, and the question will be whether SaskPower gives their proposal the official nod to move forward.
Representatives with the RES Group (Renewable Energy Systems) were at the community hall in Macrorie on Tuesday night, January 30 to speak with residents about their proposal; a 200 mega-watt (MW) wind turbine project to be located primarily within the rural municipalities of Coteau and Fertile Valley, while also touching the fringes of King George. Roughly a dozen people showed up to the open house-style public meeting.
The project would see an estimated 48-58 turbines installed, each with a generation capacity of 3 to 4 MW. The site would also include new access roads, an operations and maintenance building, an electrical substation, power performance meteorological towers, and a temporary laydown yard.
The RES Group has been involved in Canada’s renewable energy sector since 2003, with more than 750 MW of renewable energy installed or currently under construction in parts across the country. The company’s annual production totals to 2.6 terawatt hours – providing enough electricity for 240,000 homes and preventing 1.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. One example of their work includes the first solar project under the Ontario FIT program, and Ontario’s largest wind farm, the 270 MW South Kent facility in the municipality of Chatham-Kent.
The company is looking at developing in Saskatchewan because of the provincial government’s desire to increase renewable energy on the grid to 50% by the year 2030.
Andrea Cosman, an associate developer with RES, said the intended area meets the developer’s key points for establishing such a project.
“There are always three main components to a wind project; the quality of the wind resource being the primary one,” she said. “There’s a good wind resource here in this area. The land is also constructible, and we don’t expect there to be too many environmental constraints, and so we’ll be able to build. The third one is that we’re near transmission, so there are several transmission lines going near the project, so there is potential to connect to those.”
Though the venture is in the early stages, Cosman says there have been previous meetings with RM’s and talks with landowners that were quite positive.
“This is the introductory stage,” she said. “We’ve done a few municipal meetings and spoken to landowners in the area, but this is another public meeting where we’re here to present the project in a more public way. We’re still in the early development stage, so there’s more room to change the project depending on the feedback that we get.”
The proposal by the RES Group is one that the company feels strong about, but it’s also not a guarantee, as Cosman says it’ll have to be submitted to SaskPower for approval; one of likely dozens of projects that developers hope will get the green light.
“There’s a new request for proposals that’s been launched by SaskPower and the deadline for it is March 1, so there are probably about 30-40 projects that are going to submit proposals into this tender,” she said. “The project with the best price and a good community acceptance will probably be the winner.”
Stephen Cookson, RES Group’s director of development, went over a slideshow presentation with those in attendance and touted the benefits that the company says the wind energy project would see, including over $1 million per year in lease payments to landowners for its 25-year lifespan, as well as another estimated million dollars in municipal tax payments over the same span of time. As well, it was said that the project would provide up to 150 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and 12 permanent jobs during its operation.
The project would see a total investment of approximately $400 million, including significant spending on local goods and services during its development, construction and operational phases.
An estimated timeline of the development shows that it would require roughly a year to construct, starting in late 2019, and the RES Group says the turbines operating by early 2021 would be ideal.
“We think this is a competitive project, and we’ll bid again in the future if need be,” said Cookson.
After all the prospective energy projects for the province have been submitted, it’s expected that SaskPower will select the winning proposal in September.
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