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Letter: Questions remain about solar power project

A letter to the editor responds to a solar power project in the Estevan area moving forward.
Solar power project-0386
Letter to the editor responds to recent solar power announcement for the Estevan area.

The editor:

Last week’s announcement regarding a green light for the solar facility was definitely a cause for celebration.

As the Mercury editorial clearly pointed out, we do have environmentally-friendly power production on hand right now, not just in carbon capture capabilities but also in terms of land reclamation and use, greenhouse growth and the reuse of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide in the energy production and construction industries.

The announcement of the upcoming Iyuhana Solar project is to be celebrated and studied.

Partners include Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure and Saturn Power subsidiaries of the Libra Group, a private company with a global outreach. A new Canadian head office is in the Waterloo region of Ontario, not Saskatchewan. It appears as if the main office is in New York.

Details of the value of this collaboration effort with Ocean Man First Nations via SaskPower, along with the project details, has not yet been disclosed.

Where the $200 million investment comes from is not clearly spelled out, yet.

So, the questions begin with where does SaskPower fit into this partnership situation, other than providing a major portion of the grid system?

Why entangle three other corporate entities rather than engage directly in a partnership with Ocean Man? Investment fears? Could it be a lack of renewable project expertise or enthusiasm?  

One has to assume the employees operating this facility will not be SaskPower personnel. So, will these employees be represented by a union?

Who will establish the rules governing operations and power purchase agreements? What happens if mergers, takeovers or dissolutions appear on the horizon? Are the rules of engagement going to be recommendations, guidelines, regulations or legislated laws?

Where do Mr. Rupen Pandya, the president and CEO of SaskPower, and the SaskPower board of directors fit into the equation, if at all? Do they have any oversight and leadership input?

Why is Saskatchewan’s largest Crown corporation not capable of steering this project forward rather than relying on outside agencies to form the partnership with Ocean Man?  

Will the solar panels be manufactured locally, regionally, provincially or at least in Canada? Will they be built using materials sourced efficiently and ethically? We know where our coal and natural gas is located and extracted, what about the proposed solar panels? 

Will there be any subsidies involved in this undisclosed evaluation situation?

If Sask Power decides to take another sideline seat with small nuclear reactor construction and deployment in the future, what does that say about the power company’s corporate structure and future?

But now, that seems like I’m looking at a bridge too far at this point so I will conclude by simply re-uttering words of congratulations and good hunting and trust that any questions and concerns we have about this more immediate project will be answered and be obvious in due course.

Norm Park