More than four years ago we started the process of building North America's first 100 percent community-owned, multi-megawatt, wind project - right here in Saskatchewan. Throughout that period we have met with repeated delays and outright obstruction to our $60-million proposal. As a result this morning we sent the attached letter to the Auditor. The text is as follows - alternatively;
download the letter as a PDF, or;
our press release
Ms. Judy Ferguson,
Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan
1500, Chateau Tower, 1920 Broad Street, Regina. S4P 3V2 28 October 2016
Dear Ms. Ferguson,
Lack of Consistency in SaskPower's Unsolicited Power Proposal Process
For more than four years we have been trying to build North America’s first 100% community-owned, multi-megawatt, wind project and to do it here in Saskatchewan using our world-class wind resource. Since this would be the first such project in North America it is ill-suited to a competitive tender and for that reason we sought to have it considered through SaskPower’s Unsolicited Power Proposal (UPP) process. SaskPower however appears unwilling to consider it as such or to explain why.
There is a limit to how long one can continue to pursue a project in such a difficult environment and, since we are close to that limit, we bring this matter to your attention. We feel it may be of interest since a previous audit by your office flagged the lack of consistency in SaskPower’s treatment of UPPs. Specifically: your 2015 Report (Volume 1, Chapter 17) concluded “We recommend that SaskPower use consistent processes to evaluate unsolicited proposals provided to SaskPower from potential independent power producers interested in selling it power”.
To provide context; follows a summary of our experience since 2012.
In June 2012, I arrived in Saskatchewan with 15 years of international wind energy experience and with the intent of building North America’s first 100 percent community-owned, multi-megawatt, wind project. We initially sought to develop the facility 30 kilometres or so from Saskatoon and to then sell the electricity generated to the City of Saskatoon. In October 2013, after more than one year of discussions with the City of Saskatoon, we were advised by SaskPower’s Guy Bruce (VP Resource Planning) to submit a UPP application which we did, also in October 2013. Mr. Bruce responded in January 2014 stating “SaskPower is currently developing a deployment plan for wind… until SaskPower has developed this plan, it would be premature to move forward with any wind power projects through the unsolicited proposal process.” We therefore put our UPP application on hold. In July 2014, and after supportive meetings with the RM of Swift Current combined with continued delays from the City of Saskatoon, we shifted the location of our project from Saskatoon to the RM of Swift Current.
In October 2014, shortly after the Boundary Dam CCS unit was opened, SaskPower’s CEO Rob Watson was removed from office. He was replaced by Mike Marsh who started in April 2015 and in that same month announced a new, significantly expanded, wind energy policy. We assumed this was the policy to which Mr. Bruce had referred in January 2014. Consequently, in June 2015, we met with Messrs. Marsh and Bruce to again request our project be considered as a UPP. More than one year later, in July this year, and since we had not been advised of SaskPower’s decision, we wrote to Mr Marsh asking about the status of our UPP application. He responded later that month stating “SaskPower is committed to competitive processes for wind and solar procurement…and your proposed project will be eligible for consideration as part of the wind procurement”.
We were, after four years of effort and significant expense, surprised and disappointed by that response. Consequently, on the 29th August, we wrote to Minister Wyant requesting a meeting to discuss our UPP application. He responded 4th October confirming a meeting on the 17th at 15:00. One hour before that meeting was due to start, he cancelled it claiming that, since a solar RFQ had just been issued, it would be inappropriate to meet as it would represent a conflict. We find this hard to believe as, when we were at the Legislature 45 minutes later, we saw a major wind development company leaving his offices.
It is hard to understand why SaskPower would invite us to submit a UPP, then refuse to consider it because ‘there is no wind policy’ and then refuse again to consider it two years later ‘because there is a wind policy’. One wonders if SaskPower’s position relates to our decision to query both the minimal uptake of wind and solar energy in this province together with major public subsidies for coal + CCS.
We would appreciate your guidance as to why SaskPower appears unwilling to consider our UPP. In any event, I trust our experience illustrates the continued inconsistencies in the way SaskPower evaluates UPPs and hope you will consider that experience when next you review the corporation’s process for buying power from independent power producers.
James Glennie MBA CFA