The Tazi Twe hydroelectric project planned for the Black Lake area has been temporarily scrapped.
SaskPower President Mike Marsh told MBC that the $630 million project in northern Saskatchewan has been deferred because of a recent downturn in the uranium industry.
He says the mining sector is the biggest customer of power in the north, consuming about 80 per cent. Because it is laying off workers and shutting down mines, there might be no immediate need for the hydroelectric project.
“So for that reason, we have re-visited the economics of the project and it is not economically viable, so that is why we are moving on with the deferral,” said Marsh.
Based on earlier forecasts, the Tazi Twe project was projected to have injected $1.3 billion into the Black Lake First Nation economy over the next 90 years if it were to be built. However, Marsh says actually building the project is no longer viable at this time.
“It would have meant generating electricity and then having to transmit it to the southern part of the province, which would have resulted in significant line losses and therefore the cost per unit of energy goes way, way up,” the SaskPower President said.
Marsh does say SaskPower plans to re-visit the project every year for the next 3-5 years. However, he admits if the energy needs in northern Saskatchewan don’t increase the project may be scrapped completely.
The project had already received federal approval and approval from Black Lake First Nation.
Marsh met with Black Lake Chief Coreen Sayazie on Monday morning. He says she is disappointed about the deferral but says SaskPower will continue to work with the northern First Nation on the project and its potential future.
“We will look forward to an opportunity if the potential arises in the future to have this project go ahead . . . . if this project can be viable in the future,” he said.
Black Lake is located in the far northeast part of the province, about 100 kilometres south of the Northwest Territories.