Saskatchewan utility goes green buying more wind power

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Saskatchewan's government owned natural gas distribution utility is buying wind power for 13 regional offices and facilities across the province. SaskEnergy and its transmission subsidiary TransGas are buying 714,300 kWh of wind, enough to meet the annual power needs of nine customer service centres, three offices and a natural gas compressor station. Although the contract with SaskPower is just for one year, says SaskEnergy's Bernie Ryma, the utility plans to continue to buy wind in the future, and may even increase its purchases. "It's dependent upon the future cost of green power. If the premium is reduced, then our financial commitment would stay the same or increase," adds Ryma. SaskEnergy is paying a C$0.035/kWh premium for its wind power, and supplying all of its electric needs would cost the company an additional C$800,000 a year. "We're not about to make that bold a leap yet," says Ryma. SaskEnergy, he continues, has substantially reduced its corporate greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency improvements at its compressor stations. "I guess this is one way of trying to influence the emissions that we produce on the electrical side." About 70% of Saskatchewan's electricity is generated using fossil fuels. SaskPower currently buys all of the output of the 11 MW Sunbridge wind plant and will add more wind to its supply portfolio this month when it completes its own 5.9 MW Cypress Wind Power Project. Construction of the project, using nine Vestas 660 kW wind turbines, began in July.

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