Government officials were on hand to officially kickoff the construction of the new Great Plains Power Station near Moose Jaw.
The plant, expected to be operational by 2024, will add 360 megawatts of electricity to the provincial grid, enough to power Saskatoon.
Minister Responsible for SaskPower, Don Morgan says the gas-powered plant will generate cleaner energy and is a step in the province’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases.
“This will be one of the cleanest natural gas facilities that exists in the world today,” said Morgan. “It’s a sister plant to the one that’s been built at Chinook near Swift Current. So, we’ll work with this and a number of other options to help SaskPower continue to reduce their emissions wherever they can.”
Morgan says the plant will provide jobs and opportunities at the right time as the province starts to recover from COVID-19.
Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie says the construction of the plant is nothing but good news for the city, considering the city wasn’t considered initially for the project.
“There were numerous times that I’ve said, along the way, that this project faced challenges. Initially we weren’t considered for this, so we went after it,” said Tolmie. “So, we’re very, very excited not only about this project, but what this project can mean to our community in the future for other opportunities.”
Tolmie adds the city’s economy will see a significant boost with 500 people building the plant, and then 25 people working there full-time during operation.
An agreement was made between SaskPower and the Nekaneet First Nation giving the opportunity for some residents to work on the project.
Chief Alvin Francis says the agreement is a true example of what can happen when communities work with First Nations.
“We are working together to make a better future, that’s what always must go on, because without it, we won’t have those good feelings about what we got going on with each other,” said Francis. “I always encourage that we always belong where everybody else is, I encourage my youth to become educated, to become part of society because that is important.”
Francis says agreement is a tremendous step towards reconciliation.
SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh says the plant will come in handy as the province’s phases out coal-powered facilities. He adds no project gets started without thinking of future implications.
“Every time we do this, we’re doing it with the mind of reducing our emissions over the long run, and cleaning up the carbon emissions from the electricity sector here in the province,” said Marsh.