First Nations renewable power project moving forward at Meadow Lake

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The biomass project, known as the Meadow Lake Bioenergy Centre, will use wood byproducts from the NorSask Forest Products.

The Government of Saskatchewan, SaskPower and the First Nations Power Authority (FNPA) are working with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) to develop a renewable power generation project in northern Saskatchewan.

The biomass project, known as the Meadow Lake Bioenergy Centre, will use wood byproducts from the NorSask Forest Products mill near Meadow Lake to generate up to 36 megawatts (MW) of renewable, low-emissions power for the province of Saskatchewan. Biomass is an industry term for using renewable organic material to generate energy.

“This is the first project to come about through the support of FNPA, which reflects the vision of the Government of Saskatchewan to actively engage First Nations in the province’s growing economy,” said Rob Norris, Minister responsible for SaskPower. “The project will have a direct and positive impact on the local community and surrounding area, while adding greener and cleaner energy to Saskatchewan’s power grid.”

Today, SaskPower and MLTC signed a letter of intent and are now working on mutually agreeable terms for a 25-year power purchase agreement, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The project is scheduled to be in service in early 2014.

“The Saskatchewan government is proud to support a project that is going to create hundreds of jobs in the Meadow Lake area,” said Minister of Enterprise and Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison. “Biomass makes our forestry industry more competitive by taking wood byproducts and turning them into valuable and environmentally responsible energy.”

Established this spring, FNPA is a non-profit, membership-based corporation, which sets out a partnership framework for a more streamlined process to help First Nations move their generation projects forward. Each of the 74 Saskatchewan First Nations is eligible to hold membership.

“The Meadow Lake Bioenergy Center is a very significant milestone for the business development vision of Meadow Lake Tribal Council,” said Tribal Chief Eric Sylvestre. “We are excited about the economic opportunities this project will provide for our partnerships and our communities, and it builds upon more than 20 years of successful business management. We are proud to be leading a major project in partnership with FNPA and SaskPower.”

In addition to adding more renewable electricity to the province’s power system, the baseload generation project will create about 300 new jobs in the Meadow Lake region, including 25 permanent jobs at the facility.

“SaskPower is making a significant investment into renewing the province’s electricity system,” said Robert Watson, SaskPower President and Chief Executive Officer. “New generation projects like this will help us meet the province’s growing need for power, and open the door for First Nations to benefit from economic development opportunities that may emerge as a result.”