Community-owned wind-solar project pitched in Swift Current

SaskWind is proposing a $90 million community-owned wind and solar project for the Swift Current area. It would be the first 100 per cent community-owned facility in North America.

SaskWind is proposing a $90 million community-owned wind and solar project

SaskWind's proposed project would include six turbines and around about 30,000 solar panels. (Jeff Aramini)

Southern Saskatchewan is known for being one of the windiest and sunniest spots in Canada, and a Saskatoon-based organization wants to take advantage.

SaskWind is proposing a $90 million community-owned wind and solar project for the Swift Current, Sask., area.

It would be the first 100 per cent community-owned facility in North America.

James Glennie, president and founder of SaskWind, said they have spent the past two years looking all over the Swift Current area and found it to be an extremely attractive area for wind and solar development.

"What we've done is put together a financially attractive package for a $90 million wind and solar development, which would consist of about six turbines and around about 30,000 solar panels," Glennie told CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition. "We've done all the financial and technical due diligence, and it's really a question now saying to the community, 'Is this something that you want?' "

A public meeting about the renewable energy project took place Monday night at the Credit Union iPlex in Swift Current.

"The whole idea of community ownership is that it is a model which is very common in Germany and Denmark - the two countries that lead the world in wind development," Glennie said. "They actually invest their capital, and as a result they get the returns and the profits from that. The model that we're proposing is along those lines."

Glennie said this is a much different model than what currently exists in Canada.

"What happens is a big corporation comes in and they bring their own capital with them, and they invest their own capital, and they get to keep all the profits as a result," he said. "So we're not asking people invest any money today ... at this stage, we're just wanting to see if the public is interested."

The whole idea of community ownership is that it is a model which is very common in Germany and Denmark – the two countries that lead the world in wind development.- James Glennie, president and founder of SaskWind

If the community decides it is on board with the project, Glennie said the next challenge will be getting a supply agreement with SaskPower.

"We need SaskPower to agree to buy the electricity, and we've been talking with them about that now for the last two years about this specific project," he said.

"SaskPower has announced some very ambitious renewable energy targets from between now and 2030. And those targets will require $5 billion in investment and could create up to 20,000 jobs in the province over that 15-year period."

Glennie added if Swift Current decides to take a lead by being one of the first cities in North America to do a community wind project like this, it would really establish Swift Current as a base for that new $5 billion renewable energy industry.

With files from CBC's The Afternoon Edition