A multi-million dollar upgrade at SaskPower's Queen Elizabeth Power Station near Saskatoon means a significant increase in electrical output and a downgrade for coal.

"This is part of our long term plan." - Mike Marsh

The $525 million project modernized three gas turbines, making them more efficient, adding enough generation to power more than 200,000 homes.

 Mike Marsh, CEO SaskPower

Mike Marsh, CEO SaskPower speaking to reporters about the upgrade at the Queen Elizabeth Power Station. (CBC)

SaskPower President and CEO Mike Marsh said that the expansion is a "critical investment" in the utility's infrastructure, especially as the demand for power grows in Saskatchewan.

"Much of the load growth has been in the central and western part of the province. We've added several gas generation facilities in the North Battleford area, in the Kerrobert area," Marsh said. "With the addition of QE it allows us to supply that load without having to transmit it over long distances so it's a more efficient way to get electricity right to that customer."  

He said demand for electricity is expected to grow by 13 per cent over the next five years.

"Most people take their power for granted and we want to make sure that we provide a healthy, reliable and affordable way for people to consume electricity," Marsh said.

He added that SaskPower will continue to work on conservation plans, adding renewables and building more gas generation.

Marsh said two thirds of the power generated by SaskPower goes to supply industrial customers.

With today's announcement, SaskPower also noted that natural gas is now the number one source for electricity in the province, surpassing conventional coal.