Weyburn stands to be put on the map for renewable energy thanks to the Pesâkâstêw project. They held an open house in Weyburn on Wednesday to consult with the public about a solar project near Weyburn.

“The project that was being discussed yesterday at the open house is a solar project being proposed in the RM of Weyburn just southwest of the City of Weyburn,” explained Twila Walkeden with Weyburn Regional Economic Development. “So right now what they're doing is they're conducting public consultation, informing the public of the scope of the project and hearing any concerns.”

She said the turnout for the open house was great, with a number of individuals from Natural Forces, one of the partners in the project, also in attendance.

Walkeden explained the proposed project.

“There will be proposed an array of solar panels that will occupy approximately 90 acres of land located about four kilometres southwest of the city. This will potentially generate ten megawatts of clean, sustainable energy for the Saskatchewan electrical grid,” she said. “So this really puts Weyburn on the map in terms of expanding those renewable energy sources so we can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

She noted solar panels are, in fact, actually still productive on cloudy, rainy and cold days.

“This positions our community for those other proponents who are maybe looking at developing wind or solar or geothermal,” said Walkeden. “It allows our community to really showcase our open for business attitude, the fact that we are embracing these types of technologies. I really think it's something we can look forward to expanding in the future.”

Walkeden said from the proponent's point of view, Saskatchewan is currently the focus of both solar and wind.

“We're known around the world of having abundant wind and abundant sunshine, so we're really looking at huge opportunities for investment, and huge opportunities to really lessen our reliance on non-renewable energy resources,” she said.

While Pesâkâstêw is looking at commissioning by December 2020, a project of this size requires the submission of a technical proposal to Saskatchewan Environmental Assessment.

“The preliminary studies are going on right now,” she said. “I think what they're looking for in the spring, is the completion of some of the studies, so of course soil mapping, migratory and breeding birds, amphibian studies, all those things have to take place before this type of proponent is successful in getting the permits that they require from the Saskatchewan government.”

She said the studies, in conjunction with the public consultation to fully address any concerns, reflect that Pesâkâstêw is working by the book.

“They’re doing the right things in terms of what they're doing for both the environment and the community, so we really hope that the public is aware of it and has faith in the process.”

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