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Fanfare marks opening of Saskatchewan's first wind farm

A military flyby, community fair and barbecue marked the official opening of Saskatchewan's first wind farm in late June. The Sunbridge Wind Power Project's 17 Vestas V47 660 kW wind turbines have been feeding the prairie province's electricity grid since the beginning of February. The C$22 million project, spread over four sections of farmland in the southwest corner of the province, is a joint venture between Canadian energy giants Enbridge Inc and Suncor Energy. Suncor is one of the country's largest oil producers while Enbridge operates the world's longest crude oil pipeline system and Canada's largest natural gas distribution company. Both companies, says Sunbridge's Art Meyer, plan "to be leaders in the pursuit of renewable energy options." Company officials, residents of Gull Lake (a community of 1200 people located about five kilometres from the wind farm) and about 150 invited guests were on hand to witness the unveiling of a commemorative stone cairn at the site and for the festivities that followed. Saskpower, the province's government owned utility, is buying the project's annual output of about 40 GWh, which will supply federal government buildings and other customers signed up for green power in the province. Canada's federal government has budgeted C$12.4 million over ten years to support wind development in the province. Ralph Goodale, who was the federal natural resources minister before being shuffled into the public works portfolio, attended the opening. "Together we are developing a green power industry in Saskatchewan that is viable and cost effective. This type of power can help us meet our energy needs without increasing our greenhouse gas emissions," said Goodale, who is also a Saskatchewan MP. The province's second wind farm is already under development. Owned by Saskpower and also located near Gull Lake, the C$10.8 million, 5.9 MW Cypress Wind Power Project, again using Vestas turbines, is expected to be in service this fall.

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