If you are not quite sure what 'community-owned wind' actually means then check out our 'Community Wind 101' page - otherwise read on!
SaskPower favors large wind projects. SaskPower is currently charged with obtaining the cheapest electricity it can find. Wind energy is cheapest to build when it is built big. As a result SaskPower favors large wind projects such as Centennial (built in 2006 near Swift Current) and Chaplin (which will be built in 2016 near Chaplin).
SaskPower will almost certainly award future wind projects to out-of-province companies. Because Saskatchewan is so far behind the curve in developing wind energy - future wind projects are almost certain to be awarded to out-of-province companies.
Large wind and out-of-province awards, ignores wider benefits of distributed, community-owned wind. There are three main benefits.
1. Community economic development. The single largest source of cash flows during the 25-year operational life of a wind turbine are the returns offered to providers of debt and equity. If wind projects were smaller, and community funded and owned, they would be 5 percent to 10 percent more expensive - but they would retain 60 percent more cash in communities rather than sending it out of province.
For more information on the financial advantages of community wind check out our 'Community wind benefits' page.
2. Educating the public about energy. One of the biggest challenges with electricity is that it is a largely invisible commodity - it comes out of the wall when needed and that is it! Getting people directly involved in generating their own power is an excellent way of increasing public knowledge of electricity. The result of this is greater public understanding of electricity price increases to pay for such things as transmission upgrades, cleaning up toxic coal pollution or uncontrolled hikes in natural gas prices.
3. Technical ease of electrical integration. Wind energy is a variable form of generation - wind turbines generate electricity when the wind is blowing and not necessarily when people want electricity. It should therefore not be a surprise that practice as well as multiple electro-technical studies, show that wind turbines are easier and cheaper to manage when projects are small and widely distributed. Community ownership by definition ensures that this is what happens.