The first large-scale wind energy project has been approved in the province, bringing the Sask Government's plan to see a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 a little closer. Dustin Duncan, MLA for Weyburn-Big Muddy and Environment Minister, announced the approval of the 177-megawatt project Thursday, which will be developed and operated by Algonquin Power Company.

Duncan said Algonquin is a Canadian company with experience.

"They have significant experience in Canada and, in fact, in Saskatchewan," shared Duncan. "We have a number of smaller scale wind power projects and I believe Algonquin is the operators of two of those projects that are up and running in Saskatchewan. This is the first large-scale wind energy project though, so this is much bigger than anything that we've ever done before in the province. It's 177 megawatts and it's expected to include approximately 56 wind turbines."

Algonquin was named the successful proponents of this project in 2012 but they had to re-site the project to avoid disrupting migratory bird patterns. They have gone through the environmental assessment process for the second time and have now been approved. The project will operate south of Herbert, SK as the Blue Hill Wind Energy Project and produce enough electricity for roughly 70,000 homes.

SaskPower will buy the electricity from Algonquin in an effort to reduce the province's dependency on coal-powered electricity.

"This is a part of our plan under the Prairie Resilience climate change plan to see a 40 percent reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and so renewable energy is an important part of that for SaskPower to achieve that goal," shared Duncan. "So, this is just the next step in that and, in fact, we'll be making further announcements I would say later this fall about the next wind project that we'll see in the province."

Construction of the facility is expected to begin in 2019, with possible service as early as 2021.

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