Wind farm proposed for Kennedy-Kipling area

December 13, 2016, 2:09 am
Kevin Weedmark

Samit Sharma, who successfully built the Red Lily Wind Farm near Moosomin, above, is exploring the possibility of a wind farm in the Kennedy-Kipling area.

A wind farm is being proposed for the Kennedy-Kipling area.

Samit Sharma of Gaia Energy, who was instrumental in getting the Red Lily Wind Farm built at Moosomin, is involved with the proposal for Kennedy.

Sharma said in an interview last week that he is in the preliminary stages of putting together a plan for the Kennedy area.

“In Saskatchewan, power is controlled by SaskPower, and from time to time they show their interest in new power generation projects. We are looking at a project in the Kennedy, Kipling, Hazelwood area,” Sharma said.

Sharma said the project isn’t being planned in response to a specific request for proposals from SaskPower, but from an indication that the utility will be looking for more sources of renewable energy.

“They did not send out a special request for proposal but if you recall last year, in November, Premier Brad Wall had announced that they will have 50 percent of the power coming from renewables by 2030. I think that has nudged the utility into action so they have made some indication as to their plan in terms of soliciting renewable energy. We are essentially trying to develop this project to cater to that proposal.”

Sharma said Gaia Energy is working now on a proposal to be ready to submit something in 2017.

“We are anticipating that the proposals will be due some time next year,” he said. “It will be a competitive process. They will essentially look at each power proposal —what is the cost structure that each project has—and essentially the project which has the lowest cost structure and can provide power at a reasonable price—that is the one that gets approved.”

He said at this point he is looking at the wind resource in the Kennedy area. “We are looking at the project sites to figure out if there is enough of a resource base to put together a competitive proposal,” he said.

Sharma noted that the wind farm is in the same region as other projects Gaia has developed.

“It is near to the existing projects we have previously developed,” he said. “You have the Red Lily Wind Farm at Red Jacket. We were also successful on a project near Grenfell. For that project, we have all our plans in place and we are hoping to start construction next year on that one.”

Sharma said more research has to be done before he has a precise location for the new wind farm.

“There is a substation (where the wind power could be connected to the grid) in that area, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be next to the substation,” said Sharma. “In the project planning stage, lots of inputs go in. For example we need to be near a good wind resource, we have to look at what are the environmental issues, are there lands with sensitive animals or plants, are there heritage issues or things of that nature? Then, after public consultation and community consultation, you end up looking at the location.”

He said there is no shortage of good locations for wind projects in Saskatchewan.

“Overall in Saskatchewan, the province is blessed with a good wind resource generally speaking so most of the areas have a good wind resource,” he said.

What makes the difference for a successful project is community support, he said.

“The number one thing we look at is what is the community support? Is there good municipal support behind it? Do the land owners have good support for the project? Number two is how is the connectivity? Because you may have the best resources or the connectivity, but if the people don’t support it nothing happens.

“The number one thing is the support we have, so we try to see if there is enough landowner and municipal leader support for the project. Number two is how the project is connected to the grid. Number three is what is the underlying surface? Are we looking at something in an environmentally sensitive area or is it something which is on cultivated land which has already had an impact—those are things we look into before a project.”

What size of project does he envision for the Kennedy area?

“The project size depends upon where the connectivity is,” he said. “If you start looking at your project, when you spread your cost among a large number of units, it is more competitive. Sometimes the connectivity is not possible. You may be next to a substation or a power line but they may be already loaded, so you may not have enough capacity to hook up the project. The size of the project is determined by what you can connect to the grid.

“When we are developing a project we do something called an integration study with the province or the utility and in that process they come out and say if you connect this much, this would be the cost, if you connect this much, this would be the cost. At some point the cost becomes more than the benefit of the size of the facility. So that basically spins out of the process.”

What stage is the Kennedy project at?

“We have been talking to the community leaders,” said Sharma. “My approach is always to seek out the guidance of the community leaders first. You saw that in (the RMs of) Moosomin-Martin—we spoke to (reeves) Sinclair Harrison and Mark Bateman first to see what the community leaders thought of the project.

“On this project, we have had some good feedback on it and we have been in touch with some of the people previously, so that is where things are at. We have established contact and have had some good progress and we hope to make is a success story just like Moosomin.”

Sharma said he plans to be in the area in January, and to hold a public meeting to explain the proposal.

“I am planning to be in the area,” he said. “The plan is to have some kind of a public meeting likely in the later part of January.

“Every time the province announces they are going to do something, you have a whole bunch of people who become active trying to do this and that. Our approach is to meet the community and give them some information, answer their questions so that everybody is listening to the same information, so everyone is making an informed decision.”