Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online
REGINA – Saskatchewan’s power generation is made up of a diverse system of power generation assets, and like any large system, most of the time things work, but sometimes they don’t, and maintenance is needed. Additionally, new hardware comes online from time to time, as we will soon see with additional wind generation come online in the coming weeks.
In the past two weeks Pipeline Online had been told from two sources that Shand Power Station was going to be used for peaking purposes instead of baseline power generation. Asked if this was true, SaskPower spokesperson Joel Cherry responded by email on Feb. 15, “No. Shand is providing baseload power to the grid and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We dispatch all our units in such a way as provide reliable power to our customers in the most cost-effective manner.”
Asked if the carbon tax a factor in its operations, especially with it increasing to $50/tonne CO2 equivalent on April 1, Cherry responded, “SaskPower takes economic factors such as the carbon tax into consideration when optimizing the deployment of its generation fleet. As emission thresholds under the federal carbon pricing system continue to decline for coal/new natural gas and the carbon price increases, SaskPower will have to pay a higher carbon price for coal/natural gas generation.”
Two large wind farms are expected to go online in the coming months. Cherry confirmed that the Golden South Wind Project will be fully commissioned by the end of March. That project is 200 megawatts in capacity, and will consist of 50 wind turbines.
Algonquin Power’s new Blue Hill 177 megawatt wind farm is expected to be commissioned before the end of March as well.
SaskPower’s newest natural gas-fired generating station, Chinook Power Station near Swift Current, is currently down for a planned maintenance outage.
Boundary Dam Unit 6 (BD6), a 300 megawatt coal-fired unit and the largest unit in the plant, is not running at full capacity. Cherry said, “BD6 is currently operating at reduced output because of an equipment failure. Repairs that will allow the facility to return to full load are currently planned for later this month.”
The 150 megawatt Boundary Dam Unit 4 (BD4) has been recently reactivated. The intention had been to shut it down by the end of 2021 due to federal rules on the continued operation of old coal units. On this, Cherry said, “BD4 was laid up this winter, not retired. This allowed it to be kept in a state that would enable us to bring it back for contingency scenarios to mitigate risk. The current plan is to run the unit for a few weeks while planned and unplanned outages at other facilities are resolved, then return to its laid up state.”
Asked how long will BD4 be kept as a contingency before being totally shut down for good, Cherry replied, “SaskPower currently plans to keep BD4 available in a laid up state until April 1, when it would be retired.”
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