Construction is underway for the Bekevar Wind Energy project which will generate 200 megawatts of clean, renewable Energy in southeast Saskatchewan. Workers have began removing dirt in order to pour concrete for the windmill bases. Photos by: Clarence Cummins.
By: Sierra D’Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator
Progress for the Bekevar Wind Energy Project—a 36 turbine wind farm—is going well and expected to be completed by late fall 2024.
“Right now the project is on schedule. There is road work happening in terms of building the access roads on the site,” said Jessica Nixon, Director of Economic Development for Cowessess First Nation.
“As well as the access roads to each turbine that are needed. There is foundations being constructed, the excavation part of the foundation, the rebar, and the concrete flooring.”
The new Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Canadian project—a partnership between Innagreen and Awasis Nehiyawewini Energy Development (a wholly owned Cowessess First Nation entity)—is located north of Moose Mountain Provincial Park in the RM of Hazelwood, the RM of Kingsley, and on Cowessess First Nation reserve land.
The Bekevar Wind Energy Project will supply 200 megawatts (MW) of zero-emissions power, enough to serve up to 100,000 homes.
While providing sustainable and cost-effective power, the project will also help make cuts to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Our goal is to get most of the foundations completed by snowfall this year,” said Nixon.
“There is one blade already at Kipling for the turbines. We’re anticipating 15 turbines to arrive this fall so by the end of September we’ll be getting all of the turbine components that are coming.
“For the people in the area, there will be huge trucks coming with the components by the end of September, and by the first week of October we’ll start to see turbines standing up.
“The goal is to get 15 turbines installed this year before snowfall, and then the rest will be delivered and installed next season, in the spring.”
Project will support self-governance for Cowessess
With Cowessess’s ownership and involvement in the project, Nixon said it will benefit and expand the First Nation’s economic growth.
“This is the nation’s largest economic development to date, ever, in the nation’s history” said Nixon.
“It’s very meaningful to the community to have a source of, we call it, own source revenue. The way we describe that is most nations historically have been dependent on the federal government for transfer payments per capita to fund things like education, infrastructure, housing on reserves, waiting on the government to see what they’ll give us versus now, with a source of revenue like this, it gives us more autonomy and more sustainability for the nation.”
During construction for the project, there is an Indigenous Employment Advisor from Cowessess who will be working on site to make sure RES hits their Indigenous labour targets.
“We have a community member who is on site as an Indigenous Employment Advisor working directly for the construction team,” said Nixon.
“We are also part of the decision making process as part of the owner group.”