SaskPower annual report details $197M net revenue, increased outages in Regina area
Utility to pay $20M dividend to province
It was a profitable year for SaskPower, but the utility says it's still dealing with some challenges.
The Crown corporation released its annual report on Friday. It showed a net income of $197 million — $51 million more than last year.
It says the increase is due to higher electricity sales and saving money on operating, maintenance and administrative spending.
The report was not without negatives. Issues with aging infrastructure, extreme weather and wildlife exist around the province.
"We'll continue to make investments to make sure we not only clear the aging infrastructure issue to the extent we can, but also make sure that we have proper clearances on vegetation," said Mike Marsh, president and CEO of SaskPower.
SaskPower is spending $833 million on the province's electricity system in 2018-19, according to Dustin Duncan, Minister responsible for SaskPower.
Increased power outages in Regina
Marsh and Duncan confirmed there have been more power outages than usual in the Regina area.
There were 124 unplanned outages in the area from January 1 to July 4 of this year, compared to 109 over the same period last year.
He said $19 million is going toward electrical infrastructure in the Regina area this year.
"We target areas of the province where we're seeing abnormally high failures due to infrastructure," said Marsh.
SaskPower is also setting up netting around some infrastructure to help protect it from wildfire, according to Duncan.
The provincial NDP said Friday that the report shows the province it's not doing enough to maintain efficient power.
NDP MLA Carla Beck said the power outage numbers stood out.
"I think that's an ongoing concern for people in the province," Beck said. "I think they rightfully expect that when they turn the lights on they receive power."
She said the province is also falling behind when it comes to renewable energy.
"Saskatchewan really has been late to the game on that investment," she said.
The report outlines renewable energy projects the province is working on, including the 20-megawatt Western Lilly Wind Energy Facility that has been added to the electrical system and continued work on a $300 million project to extend the life of a hydroelectric station near Nipawin.
It says proponents have also been chosen for a utility-scale wind power project and a utility-scale solar project.
New natural gas regulations
Plans for a natural gas plant in Moose Jaw could be put on hold, according to Duncan.
The federal government released its final regulations for a carbon tax on heavy industrial emitters last week, which includes regulations on natural gas plants.
Duncan said the regulations mean that any combined-cycle natural gas plant that starts operating after 2021 will need to hit zero emissions by 2030. If not, there will be a financial penalty.
Marsh said the regulations "could create considerable cost going forward for utilities like SaskPower."
Duncan said the government is still working to determine what they mean for Saskatchewan, but he believes they will complicate some decisions that need to made over the next decade.
He said he would like to see provincial governments more involved in regulatory decisions.