The Government of Saskatchewan, through SaskBuilds and Procurement, has approved a $50 million capital stimulus grant to SaskPower to protect system reliability and build distribution capacity. The Power Grid Renewal Grant will enable SaskPower to invest a record $272 million during the 2021-22 fiscal year to replace and improve its aging transmission and distribution infrastructure.
This grant and record investment will allow SaskPower to undertake additional infrastructure sustainment work and fast-track current projects as part of an annual program to benefit customers in Saskatchewan.
"A stable and reliable power grid is crucial to ensure the safety and security of our electrical system and maintain a strong economy," Minister Responsible for SaskPower Don Morgan said. "Between 2014 and 2020, SaskPower invested more than $1 billion to maintain and improve its extensive transmission and distribution infrastructure in the province. SaskPower's record investment, bolstered by our government's Power Grid Renewal Grant, demonstrates our continued commitment to maintaining a resilient electrical system."
A significant portion of SaskPower's overhead and underground rural infrastructure comes to the end of its life every year and requires renewal or replacement to continue to provide reliable service to customers. This record investment, which is a 62 per cent increase over the five-year average spend, will help improve the reliability of SaskPower's electrical system.
"Investing in our power distribution lines, which provide a vital link to homes, farms and business, makes sense," SaskBuilds and Procurement Minister Jim Reiter said. "The $50 million Power Grid Renewal Grant will be invested directly into limiting power outages and improving distribution stability for everyone in Saskatchewan."
Transmission and distribution sustainment activities include wood pole maintenance and replacement, line rebuilds, underground cable replacements, upgrades to protective equipment for electrical infrastructure, and the conversion of additional streetlights to LED in towns and villages. More than 65 per cent of this work will be completed by Saskatchewan contractors, and the remaining work will be completed by SaskPower crews. The provincial government's investment will result in the equivalent of 120 to 150 additional jobs over the course of the work being completed.
SaskPower has the second-largest network of all Canadian utilities with 157,000 km of distribution and transmission lines. In addition, SaskPower has the fewest customers per kilometre of line than any other utility in the country.