Estevan will soon see the construction of a 100 megawatts emissions-free solar facility following the approval of a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) with Ocean Man First Nation, the largest utility PPA in Saskatchewan since 2015. Operating under their lyuhána Solar LP, Ocean Man's partnership with Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure (GSI) and Saturn Power will oversee the permitting, financing, construction, ownership, operation, and maintenance of this facility. Construction is planned to begin by 2025 and the facility is expected to come online as early as December of 2026, providing enough power for approximately 25,000 homes. Connie Big Eagle, Chief of Ocean Man First Nation, shared her excitement following the announcement and said that the project will bring many lasting opportunities to the community.
"We're really excited about it because we are a small First Nation, and that we were able to get the bid for the project is a huge achievement," said Big Eagle. "The name of the project is called 'lyuhána', which in our language means 'all of us' or 'everyone', and the name is meaningful because this project will take care of so many people in different ways. Whether that's providing employment or powering houses, or down the road, maintenance and operation. Training is also going to be provided for band members to be able to work on the project, so we're pretty excited and it means a lot to us."
GSI, a subsidiary of Libra Group, will invest $200 million into the lyuhána Solar Project, also offering their insights as an experienced clean-energy provider operating in 10 countries around the globe. This will be Libra's second partnership between an indigenous community and one of its renewable subsidiaries, a collaboration that GSI CEO Mazen Turk is proud to bring to the province.
"This success is the result of a strong, collaborative partnership with Ocean Man First Nation along with the determination of many team members, helping to ensure that the Iyuhána Solar Project was selected to support changing the landscape of renewable energy in Saskatchewan and Canada for generations to come,” said Turk.
The power generated by this facility will be sold back to Saskpower as part of the 25-year PPA and will be a major milestone in Saskatchewan's journey to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Being part of a large-scale green energy project like this, and one that will benefit both the environment and future generations of Canadians, aligns well with the values of Ocean Man.
"As First Nation people, we're keepers of the earth," said Big Eagle. "By providing green energy and supporting environmentally friendly projects like this, we can practice our beliefs and values and create a brighter future for our communities."
Both the Southeast College in Estevan and the University of Regina will facilitate training for the workers selected for this project, which Big Eagle expects to begin soon. In the meantime, Connie said that she is thankful for the band members that aided this successful partnership with GSI, and for the experts who have been guiding the project forward through the many technical hoops that lay ahead before construction can begin.