SaskPower, First Nations sign $85M, 20 MW solar agreement
SaskPower announced May 31 that, with the First Nations Power Authority (FNPA), it had signed a First Nations Opportunity Agreement setting out conditions for developing 20 megawatts of new utility‐scale solar generation projects. The agreement is estimated to be worth $85 million over the course of 20 years.
“The signing of this agreement adds to what is already an important partnership between First Nations Power Authority and SaskPower. Both are committed to generating sustainable, renewable energy resources to provide Saskatchewan with power. Reducing emissions is also a cornerstone of our province’s Prairie Resilience Strategy,” said the Honourable Warren Kaeding, Minister of Government Relations, on behalf of the Honourable Dustin Duncan, Minister Responsible for SaskPower. “Indigenous people have long served as stewards of the land and can provide valuable insight into projects that are integral to generate clean energy for generations to come.”
The First Nations Opportunity Agreement (FNOA) gives FNPA the responsibility of securing First Nations‐led solar generation projects, the 20 MW of which is part of SaskPower’s plan to add 60 MW of utility‐scale solar to the provincial grid by 2021.
In addition, last year SaskPower and Saturn Power announced the 10 MW Highfield Solar Project, the province’s first utility‐scale solar facility. That facility will be located southeast of Swift Current and is expected to be in service as early as the end of 2020. The competitive process for an additional 10 MW solar project is currently in the RFP stage. The remainder will be achieved through 20 MW of community‐based solar projects, including projects through the Power Generation Partner Program.
While no power purchase agreements have been signed with SaskPower under the agreement, FNPA currently has two potential solar projects under consideration. This includes a 10 MW project through the George Gordon and Star Blanket First Nations, as well as a 10 MW project led by the Cowessess First Nation.
“FNPA is proud of the planning, time and resources committed by George Gordon and Starblanket Cree Nation advancing towards building their 10 MW solar farm. We are highly confident that this project will serve as a shining example of how indigenous‐led power projects can meet the need of SaskPower’s electricity demands for clean sources of renewable energy,” said FNPA CEO Guy Lonechild. “For the remaining 10 MW, Cowessess Ventures Ltd. is proposing a project at an on‐reserve location, which will maximize existing local indigenous experience and further demonstrate its place as a leader in Saskatchewan’s renewable energy industry.”
Last year, SaskPower signed a similar agreement with FNPA for 20 MW of flare gas generation, worth an estimated $300 million over the course of 20 years. SaskPower continues to evaluate all available clean energy options to meet Saskatchewan’s growing demand for electricity while also reducing greenhouse gas emission by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030.
With, currently, 25 general members among Saskatchewan’s First Nations and 16 First Nation owned businesses, the First Nations Power of Authority of Saskatchewan Inc. was established in 2011, after discussions with Saskpower.