Several First Nations and the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan will now have financial backing for the province. Government of Saskatchewan photo/X

REGINA – SaskPower’s intention to add 3,000 megawatts of additional wind and solar power generation got another boost on Monday, June 24, when the provincial government announced it would financially back part of the investment into a new 200 megawatt wind project near Weyburn, should that project go ahead.

Minister of Crown Investments Corporation and SaskPower Dustin Duncan and Minister of Trade and Investment Development Jeremy Harrison announced the Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corporation (SIIFC) will provide up to $100 million in loan guarantees to six Indigenous partners to support their investment in Enbridge’s new renewable wind energy project southeast of Weyburn.

“We are proud to support this historic partnership by providing $100 million in loan guarantees through the Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corporation which will benefit nearly 25 per cent of Saskatchewan’s Indigenous population,” Harrison said. “This project will increase Indigenous participation in Saskatchewan’s economy, create new jobs and advance economic reconciliation in our province.”

The Seven Stars Energy Project is a collaboration between Enbridge and Cowessess, George Gordon, Kahkewistahaw, Pasqua and White Bear First Nations as well as Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. The partners will receive up to $100 million in loan guarantees from SIIFC to support acquiring at least 30 per cent equity in the project.

The project cost was not disclosed, but is expected to be into the “hundreds of millions of dollars. According to chief Matthew Peigan of Pasqua First Nation.

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Enbridge has been heavily investing into wind projects in five different countries, and in particular, France in recent years. The company’s web page notes, “Enbridge is one of Canada’s leading suppliers of renewable energy. Since 2002, we have invested in wind energy projects in five different countries, totaling 4,870 MW (gross)—or 2,117 MW (net)—of wind-power capacity globally, based on projects either in operation or under construction.

“Since 2015, our involvement in European offshore wind energy has grown significantly. Currently, Enbridge has a 24.9 per cent ownership interest in the Rampion Offshore Wind Project in England, a 49.89 per cent ownership stake in the Hohe See and Albatros Wind Projects off the coast of Germany, and a 25.5 per cent and 17.9 per cent ownership stake, respectively, in France’s Saint-Nazaire and Fécamp offshore wind projects. We started construction in 2021 at the Calvados offshore wind project in France, in which we hold a 21.7 per cent stake.”

One of Enbridge’s earliest wind projects was in Saskatchewan, where it partnered with Suncor to build the Sunbridge project near Gull Lake back in 2002. That was so long ago that the 11 megawatt project was decommissioned in August, 2022.

“In collaboration with industries’ evolving energy needs, SaskPower continues to make progress on our commitment of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and deploying up to 3,000 MW of wind and solar generation by 2035,” Minister Responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan said. “Partnerships like this between Enbridge and Six Nations Energy Development will support SaskPower in achieving its emission reduction targets, while also providing extraordinary benefits to Saskatchewan’s First Nations communities.”

SaskPower has made it a requirement that to take part in these major wind or solar developments, there must be an aboriginal ownership component to the project. As an example, last summer, the 200 megawatt Bekevar Yotin Wind Facility began construction southeast of Kipling, with the Cowessess First Nation as a partner.

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Notably, SaskPower does not own or operate these recent, major wind project. Rather, they operated as independent power producers, and SaskPower has a power purchase agreement with them.

Enbridge has not yet made its final investment decision. That is expected next year. It is working on a power purchase agreement with SaskPower.

Enbridge’s mainline is already a major consumer of power from SaskPower. And the Alliance Pipeline, which until recently was part of Enbridge, has four small-scale power generation facilities along its mainline, each producing five megawatts from waste heat resulting from Alliance’s compressor stations.

Government of Saskatchewan photo/X

“This is Enbridge’s first Indigenous partnership focused on wind energy generation and our first Indigenous partnership in Saskatchewan,” Enbridge’s executive vice president, corporate strategy and president, power Matthew Akman said. “The clean electricity Enbridge and our Indigenous partners will provide will help meet the demand for safe, reliable and affordable energy for residential, small business, and industrial use well into the future. This is a unique opportunity for the growth of our renewables portfolio, and one that I am excited to advance alongside our new partners.”

The location, which straddles the key transmission lines between the Estevan coal-fired power stations and Regina, is also close to the southeast Saskatchewan oilpatch, one of the largest consumers of power in SaskPower’s portfolio of customers.

This announcement is the first ever loan guarantee to be provided by SIIFC. The corporation was created in 2022, to increase access to capital for Indigenous communities and entities participating in Saskatchewan’s natural resource and value-added agriculture sectors. Loan guarantee through this project are expected to benefit nearly 25 per cent of Saskatchewan’s Indigenous population, the government said in a release.

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“On behalf of Six Nations Energy, we are thrilled to announce the collaboration between our Nation partners and Enbridge to advance sustainable energy solutions in Saskatchewan,” Six Nations Energy Development LP President Jake Sinclair said. “Through a $100 million dollar loan guarantees from the Saskatchewan Indigenous Investment Finance Corporation (SIIFC) this project was able to become a reality. As Enbridge’s first Indigenous partnership in Saskatchewan, this project marks a major milestone, benefiting our communities and making a positive impact across the province. As Indigenous people, we are always thinking forward.”

“The new wind energy facility will be designed to produce 200 megawatts of emissions–free power – enough to support the annual energy needs of more than 100,000 Saskatchewan homes,” the release said. “It will be developed, constructed and operated by a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Enbridge, subject to finalizing commercial agreements, securing the necessary environmental and regulatory approvals, and meeting investment criteria.”

On various social media, Premier Scott Moe said of the announcement, “We are proud to be a part of advancing this important project that will help provide clean electricity and will help meet the demand for safe, reliable, and affordable energy for residential, small businesses, and industries well into the future.”

If this project goes ahead, it will be the third 200 megawatt wind project in Saskatchewan and of the fourth of that scale. The first was the Golden South Wind Facility, near Assiniboia, which started construction in 2020 and went online in 2022. Bekevar Yotin Wind Facility is in the midst of construction. Of similar scale is the 175 megawatt Blue Hill Wind Facility near Herbert, which also went online in 2022. According to SaskPower’s Where your Power Comes From webpage, the total 617 megawatts of grid-scale wind power averaged 64 megawatts over 24 hours on Saturday, June 22. That equated to two per cent of SaskPower’s total generation for that day. That same day, natural gas made of 48 per cent of power generation, or 1,321 megawatts, while coal accounted for 28 per cent, or 762 megawatts.

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Kipling area Bekevar Yōtin Wind Facility turns sod, gets $50 million from feds, money that came from Saskatchewan businesses via output based pricing