SaskPower secures land option for potential electrical generation site

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Swift Current reaches land deal as SaskPower explores new electrical generation site

Swift Current took a concrete step towards securing a new electrical generation site after Swift Current City Council approved a SaskPower option to purchase a piece of city owned property.

While SaskPower will now conduct site assessments and continue the consultation process before making a final decision on the location, Tuesday's agreement is considered a significant development.

SaskPower was approved to provide an 18 month option agreement on a quarter of land adjacent to Swift Current existing Industrial Landfill site northwest of the City. SaskPower will pay 15 per cent of the site costs, and would pay the entire balance if the site is selected. They will now conduct a series of land site studies, including a geodetic land survey, soil sampling, core sampling, environmental and archaeological studies, test well drilling plus geotechnical studies.

As one of two shortlisted locations for a SaskPower Combined Cycle Gas Turbine facility, Swift Current was chosen along with a location in the Lanigan area as the two most optimal sites for a new natural gas electrical generation location.

SaskPower Stakeholder Engagement and Consultation Manager Bernie Bolen advised City Council that the location which shows the more pressing need for a higher electrical supply will be constructed first.

"For this project we're anticipating about a 2019ish in-service date for the supply option," Bolen said. "We've identified already, as mentioned before, Swift Current's going to need some reinforcement. As would Lanigan and the Wolverine site. So it's a question of us sort of watching that load growth, and whenever point it reaches that says whoops, we need some reinforcement in Swift, we've got a site ready to go. Similarly for Lanigan."

A series of factors will weigh into their ultimate decision, but both locations have met site selection criteria including location to natural gas pipelines, connect ability to the transmission grid, availability of water, and accessibility to the site.

With SaskPower projecting to expand their electrical production by 900 megawatts between 2014 and 2019, and by another 1,300 megawatts from 2024 to 2033, these two locations would fit into their future electrical growth needs.

"The economy bounces around, so it's not definite, but likely 2019ish we would need to have that energy available, depending on which of the two sites first. So with a two or three year lead time…probably by 2015-16 we'd be able to say, yup, one of those will be ready to go first. We have to make that decision," Bolen said.

Bolen and two other SaskPower representatives presented an updated overview of the project during a 20 minute presentation at Tuesday's City Council meeting. He highlighted SaskPower is in a growth mode, having spent $1 billion this past year as they work to renew and modernize Saskatchewan electrical system. With increased electrical demand pressures as Saskatchewan's economy continues to grow.

"That really is just the depth of the investment that is required on two fronts. One is to rebuild and update our existing infrastructure, some of which is quite old, dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. And then the second big push for us now is trying to keep up with the added growth that's occurring. So really we're trying to fix our old stuff and add new stuff as fast as we can in order to keep up."

Organizations: SaskPower, Swift Current City Council

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatchewan

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