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Enbridge and Six Nations Energy Development consortium plan wind energy project

REGINA — Enbridge Inc. and Six Nations Energy Development LP announced plans Monday to develop a massive wind energy project in southeast Saskatchewan.
Colin Gruending, Executive Vice President of Enbridge, speaks during a press conference about a wind energy project in Saskatchewan in Regina, Monday, June 24, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu

REGINA — Enbridge Inc. and Six Nations Energy Development LP announced plans Monday to develop a massive wind energy project in southeast Saskatchewan.

The Seven Stars Energy Project, located near Weyburn, is slated to produce 200 megawatts of clean electricity, enough to fuel more than 100,000 homes for a year.

A wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Enbridge is to develop, construct and operate the facility, expected to come online in 2027 should it meet regulatory and investment criteria.

"We're co-investing alongside our Indigenous communities. These communities are near our current pipeline operations and with whom we've gradually strengthened relationships with over time," Colin Gruending, an executive vice-president at Enbridge, said Monday during a news conference in Regina.

Six Nations Energy Development, a consortium of First Nations in southeast Saskatchewan along with Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, have an opportunity to acquire at least a 30 per cent stake in the project. A $100 million loan guarantee from the Saskatchewan government's Indigenous Investment Finance Corp. will help achieve that, Six Nations says.

"It's very momentous for us, as Treaty 4 Nations, as Métis Nations," said Chief Matthew Peigan of Pasqua First Nation.

"I credit Enbridge for kicking the door open, for allowing (this partnership) to grow. I don't like to call it building bridges, I like calling it fill in the gaps, because bridges crumble."

Project costs have not been disclosed, but Peigan said during the conference that it would be in the "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Once complete, revenues from the project will help fund housing, education and health care for members of the First Nations and Métis Nations, Peigan said.

"At the end of the day, it's not about you and I. It's about the wrongs that were created yesterday and how we can plan today and how we can make tomorrow better."

Enbridge is working on a long-term power purchase agreement with SaskPower, the province's Crown utility company, before making final investment decisions on the project next year.

Jeremy Harrison, the provincial minister responsible for economic development, said it's these kinds of partnerships that will form a template for future energy projects in Canada.

"We wanted to make sure we had a great project, and this is a great project that is going to be deeply successful and deeply impactful for all the partners involved," Harrison said.

Peigan said he hopes the federal government sees what's possible when industry and First Nations work together.

He noted Ottawa's recently announced $5-billion loan guarantee program for Indigenous communities.

"I say show me the cash," the chief said with a chuckle.

"That's the intent: to proceed to the federal government and look for that partnership."

Gruending said a generational opportunity awaits should Ottawa's program look like Saskatchewan's.

"Industry is ready to lead the way, and from what we can see, Indigenous partners are ready to join," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2024.

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Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press