Meeting the Growing Demand For Power in Saskatchewan
By Anna Guy
$140 million in local contracts; power for 350,000 homes in Saskatchewan; and supporting renewable energy and producing less greenhouse gas emissions—SaskPower’s latest capital project, the Chinook Power Station, will help lead the province toward their 2030 carbon emissions targets.
After three years of construction, SaskPower’s Chinook Power Station came online at the end of 2019 to serve Saskatchewan’s growing population’s need for more power.
Joel Cherry, spokesperson for SaskPower tells Business Elite Canada that SaskPower is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. “One way that we’re doing that by adding more renewable generation to our system such as wind and solar, with baseload power to back that up. The Chinook Power Station is important because it’s going to add a significant amount of baseload power (350 MW) to our power grid.”
Exemplary pre-planning and risk contingency plans meant the $605-million power plant project came in $75 million under budget, something Cherry credits to project management and strong collaboration with procurement partner Burns & McDonnell.
“It took over 2 million on-site labour hours to safely build the Chinook Power Station. We worked extensively at the beginning of the project to make sure our design would not require costly revisions later on down the line and we also met regularly throughout the project to review project risks and adjust our forecast, so we were able to bring the project in under budget. That was definitely a positive thing for SaskPower,” says Cherry.
In total, $430 million worth of contracts were available on Chinook. Cherry says it’s important to note that for the largest contracts available (e.g. turbines and generators) no local companies had the experience or capability to build and install equipment of this size and therefore this work required the company to source equipment from outside Saskatchewan and Canada.
“Wherever possible, we used local services to complete aspects related to this work that could be done locally (e.g. installing the equipment built out-of-country and general construction activities with local resources),” says Cherry.
With over 500 people required at peak construction, SaskPower estimates that up to $140 million was generated to local businesses. This came in the way of services to the plant, like fencing or security services and doesn’t include spending of workers on services like hotels, restaurants and other retail. Longer term, the power station permanently employs about 25 people.
The combined-cycle facility features a Siemens F-Class gas turbine, a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) and a Siemens steam turbine to boost power output and maximize energy efficiency while reducing our overall emissions footprint.
The highly efficient combined-cycle operation will use exhaust heat that would otherwise be lost in a simple-cycle configuration. The hot exhaust from the initial cycle is captured to boil water into steam in the HRSG and spin an additional second generator to produce more power. Combined-cycle technology is widely acknowledged for its fuel efficiency and low emissions footprint. The combined-cycle unit will also significantly reduce water use thanks to a plant design that will incorporate advanced air cooling.
“One of our strategic priorities is to modernize the grid while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with our 2030 targets,” says Cherry. “We need to have a portfolio of generation options that allows us to deliver environmentally friendly, reliable and cost-effective power. We’re in the process of adding another 387MW of wind power projects—more than doubling our numbers now. We are also in the early stages of adding utility scale solar to the province—the Highfield Solar Project will be Saskatchewan’s first solar generation project and will being clean power to approximately 11,000 homes.”
SaskPower is making major strides towards a clean energy future. Major infrastructures like Chinook Power Station will reduce the province’s dependence on coal and lower greenhouse gas emissions. “There is a range of potential generation options that SaskPower is developing to make sure that we have a reliable, sustainable, and cost-efficient network.”