SaskPower announced this morning that Estevan is the site for a new solar facility, which will be the largest in the province once completed.

In that announcement, they said Estevan was chosen because it gets plentiful sunlight, its proximity to existing transmission infrastructure, and a large amount of flat land available.

The project is set to produce 100 MW, which will produce 10 times the amount of power as the current largest solar operation.

Minister of SaskPower Don Morgan says that they'll be looking at getting plenty of space for the project.

"It will take up a larger - I don't know in square feet or acres - but it's a significant number. For us to try and be competitive and efficient with solar we need to have large areas that will be covered with solar panels. I'm excited by the project and I think it'll be great to have other options."

The area may not need to be 10 times as large as that other site, says morgan, as the panels could be placed more efficiently.

"It's a good-sized operation, new plants that are operating on natural gas will be in the range of 350-375 MW," said Morgan, "So if this is 100, this is roughly a third of the size of one of our largest other generating facilities so it's a good size facility, and we'll be able to be really effective fitting into our grid, powering a large number of households."

That power is going to go into SaskPower's grid. While it may end up in all corners of the province, it will mainly go toward houses in the southeast.

Morgan says that rates here in the southeast aren't likely to climb once that facility starts producing.

"Because we're looking for a private partner to provide the capital and to install it, once it's operational it should be something where it has good affordability for rates. Both solar and wind are very low operating costs and they're the most effective and efficient ways of doing this and the emissions from them - they're virtually CO2 free."

The facility will be creating construction jobs during the building process and getting it hooked up to the grid with a few jobs staying to keep panels clean.

Another energy source for the southeast which was discussed with SaskPower earlier this year - Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) - would also be an option to provide power for the area, which would be a part of the southeast's energy production.

"We want to have as many good options as we can; wind and solar are certainly among them," said Morgan, "The problem with wind and solar is at night or if there's no wind you have no power coming out of them. An SMR or clean coal facility provides reliable baseload power that runs continuously 24 hours a day, so that when you turn lights on in your home or turn the heat on or something else that it works instantly and right away."

"We have a process underway right now looking at how and what that might be. We have people working both in the ministry of energy and at SaskPower looking at SMRs."

The two power sources would be coexisting if the SMR plans were okayed for the Estevan area.

Morgan says that they're planning for the facility to be completed in 2026.