Golden South Wind Facility, Assiniboia, summer of 2021. Video by Brian Zinchuk

REGINA – SaskPower routinely sets power consumption records on the coldest and warmest days of the year. On Dec. 29, it was mighty cold across Saskatchewan, and the Crown utility set another record in power consumption for Saskatchewan. At 5:27 p.m. on December 29, 2021, Saskatchewan homes and businesses reached 3,868 megawatts (MW) in power use, according to SaskPower.

The previous record of 3,792 MW was reached four years ago to the day, on Dec. 29, 2017. In total, the record was beaten by 76 MW, or the equivalent power use of approximately 76,000 homes.

Saskatchewan broke the summer record this year with a peak load of 3,543 MW on June 30.

At 5 p.m., Dec. 29, Environment Canada reported these temperatures across the province, in Celsius: Regina, -28, Saskatoon -28; Estevan, -28; North Battleford, -28; Yorkton -29; Prince Albert, -30.

Wind generation

These communities have wind farms nearby. Their temperatures were: Assiniboia, -26; Swift Current, -28; Moosomin, -27; Indian Head -29, East End, -29.

Those numbers are significant, as wind turbines must shut down at -30 C lest they shatter. And those temperatures did fall below -30 in the following hours at each location except Swift Current.

“Our wind turbines shut down at -30, just because the metal becomes too brittle at those temperatures,” McGregor said. “Each one of our turbines has a mini weather station in it, so that it will automatically shut down at -30. That said, at peak, where the major of our wind generation was happening, it wasn’t -30. So, at peak, we were generating approximately 290 megawatts with wind.”

SaskPower owns or purchases power from an installed base of seven wind farms. The first six – Cypress, Sunbridge, Morse, Red Lily and Western Lily total 241 megawatts of installed capacity, while the 200 megawatt Golden South Wind Power Facility at Assiniboia is partially complete, according to McGregor.

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The Golden South project website’s most recent update states, “All 50 turbines have been erected as of May 2021 and 17 of the turbines are commissioned and operating. The operational turbines have collectively generated a total of 21,000 megawatts as of April 28, 2021. Delivery of some Project components are delayed due to the escalation of COVID-19 situation overseas. All of the turbines are anticipated to be commissioned by mid-July or early August 2021.”

Potentia Renewables has proposed a second, adjacent wing project at Assiniboia called Golden South II, which would have up to 12 wind turbines with a capacity of 50 megawatts. It would be west of the original Golden South project, lying between Assiniboia and Limerick, with most of the area south of Highway 13.

Algonquin Power announced on Dec. 10 it had completed installing the final blade of a 35-turbine, 177 megawatt wind facility called Blue Hill near Herbert.

SaskPower does not provide a granular breakdown of power generation from each facility to the public, but Alberta does. The Alberta Electric System Operator posts power production, updated each minute, from every power generating source on its grid, at http://ets.aeso.ca/ets_web/ip/Market/Reports/CSDReportServlet.

“SaskPower continues to see an increase in power demand in Saskatchewan as we add new customers to our grid,” said Kory Hayko, vice president of Transmission and Industrial Services at SaskPower, in a release on Dec. 30. “We are committed to meeting the demands of this growth by investing in our generation infrastructure to ensure safe, reliable, and cost-effective power for Saskatchewan.”

To meet growing power demand, SaskPower plans to expand its generation capacity from approximately 5,000 MW now to 7,000 MW by 2030 while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent from 2005 levels, the company said in a release.

 

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It’s -32 C, and we spent 3.5 hours snowblowing today. Could an electric snowblower charged by wind power have done it?

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