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INNOVATING TODAY TO POWER TOMORROW — Chapter 1

Looking to the future; building on the past

It’s all about innovation these days. A lot of people are thinking about it, many are talking about it and some are doing it. It’s what makes something good become better. At SaskPower, we strive to improve every day.

We’re exploring demonstration projects to meet future generation needs and using technology to build a smarter grid. We built the world’s first carbon capture and storage project of its kind at Boundary Dam Power Station. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one million tonnes a year.

We’re looking at expanding wind, waste heat and natural gas options. We have composite poles that won’t rot and decay. We use quadcopters to patrol lines instead of hiring helicopters, saving thousands of dollars. Customers are increasingly kept in the loop via social media. The list goes on.

Power line technician Chad Schneider prepares a quadcopter for liftoff.

A quadcopter patrols lines south of Regina.

But innovative thinking is not new at SaskPower — it’s been how we’ve been doing things since the beginning.

 

In 1943, only one per cent of Saskatchewan’s farms had electricity from power lines. In farmhouses across the province, Dad hauled heavy buckets of water to the house to heat over the fire while Mom spent hours scrubbing clothes on a washboard. It was all done by the soft flickering light of a flame.

They received letters from relatives who talked about the luxury of electricity. They heard it changed lives. This was six years before SaskPower became a Crown corporation.

It was difficult to power our province. Saskatchewan’s farms were some of the largest in Canada. We had nearly as many farms as Alberta and Manitoba combined. And the majority of agricultural land in the western provinces was in Saskatchewan.

But SaskPower wouldn’t take no for an answer. The company was one of the first utilities in North America to use a single-wire, ground-return distribution system — an alternative to the typical two-wire system. This allowed Saskatchewan’s rural residents to be connected to the grid at a minimal cost, despite being so spread out. Less than 20 years after SaskPower formed, 66,000 farms had power.

A rural couple receives power.

A SaskPower worker on the job.

Today, we flick a switch and our lights come on. We plug in an appliance and it works. We charge our cellphones and baby monitors. Because they have electricity, our hospitals, schools and hockey rinks give us the power to heal, learn and have fun.

SaskPower is facing challenges that are changing the way we do things. Our infrastructure — the lines and plants installed during rural electrification — is aging. More people and businesses are calling our province “home" than ever before. We’re facing increased environmental pressures. As a company, we need to adapt while keeping power affordable.

The Saskatchewan Power Corporation begins work on rural electrification in 1949.

One thing won’t change: we’ll always come up with innovative ways to power the future. We won’t stop finding ways to make this province even better. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Since 1929, SaskPower’s been there for Saskatchewan. And we’re only getting started.

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Waste Heat No More
Chapter 2