Saskatoon Light and Power Pitches $3.5M Solar Power Plant

1-megawatt operation eyed for 2020 start

By: Guy Quenneville

A panel at Saskatoon Light and Power’s solar panel demonstration site west of Circle Drive West. The utility wants to build a $3.5-million solar power plant. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC News)

City-owned Saskatoon Light and Power is pitching a $3.5-million solar power plant on the city’s west side.

The proposal, which would see the one-megawatt plant ready by 2020, is meant to provide energy for the utility’s customers and reduce the amount of energy the utility purchases from SaskPower.

The project, according to a city report, would “save 15,893 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from being emitted over the 25-year term of the project, which is equivalent to removing 134 cars from the road.”

The proposed location is south of 11th Street, between Dundonald Avenue and Circle Drive West, though city councillors need to approve that the land — known as “Parcel M” — be set aside.

The city recommends that be done.

“This would not permit SL&P to start building the power plant, but would allow the utility to further analyze the site and begin developing a program to finance, build and operate a solar power facility on the land,” according to a report.

The area is close to where a 92-panel pilot demonstration — meant to make a case for the larger farm — is located.

Different funding options

Under one financial scenario contemplated for the solar power plant would see the project largely financed through debt.

Other financing options are outlined, however, such as contracting another company to finance, build, and operate a solar power plant as well as launching a virtual net metering program that would allow customers to install their own solar power equipment.

The $3.5-million scenario would involve Saskatoon Light and Power building the plant itself.

It’s part of the utility’s plan to eventually generate 10 per cent of its annual energy requirements from local, renewable resources.

Community engagement on the project is expected.

Saskatoon’s forward-looking draft budget, released last week, proposes to begin setting aside millions of dollars for a “utility-scale solar generation” project in 2019.


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