When it comes to making things better for Meadow Lake and area, SaskPower has… well, the power.

Recently, a two-day open house was held at the Alliance Church in Meadow Lake during which SaskPower officials outlined details for an upcoming project designed to improve power reliability in the Meadow Lake, Glaslyn and Spruce Lake areas. The project includes building a new switching station and three new power lines.

“When we have a project like this we try to engage with the stakeholders and make sure we give them the opportunity to understand what we’re doing and to hear their thoughts on the project,” explained Lucky Idedia of SaskPower’s stakeholder engagement team when interviewed during the open house’s second day March 2. “We’re looking for feedback, areas of concern and any questions people may have.”

Specifically, SaskPower plans to building a new switching station southwest of the existing station located south of Meadow Lake. The project will also include a new, 230-kilovolt (kV) power line to connect an existing 230 kV power line in the area to the new switching station. It will be about 16 kilometres long. A new, 138 kV power line is also planned to connect an existing 138 kV power line in the area to the new switching station. It will be about four kilometres long. Finally, a new, 138 kV power line will be installed to extend an existing line from the Spruce Lake switching station to the new switching station. It will be about 100 kilometres long.

“After assessing our existing power equipment in the area, we decided new power lines and a new switching station are needed to continue to provide safe and reliable power to the area,” reads a statement on SaskPower’s website. “We’re in the early stages of the project. So far, we’ve done some initial assessment and have developed some potential line routes.”

Maps showing the proposed routes are also available on SaskPower’s website. According to Idedia, however, there are three major routes proposed on the west side, as well as a single east route. Local alternatives and crossovers are also included on the maps.

“This gives us an opportunity, if we need to, to adjust the route a little bit,” he said.

Meanwhile, SaskPower’s website also indicates stakeholder and rightsholder participation are important as the company searches for the best overall route for the new power lines.

“We’ve started reaching out to communities, rightsholders and stakeholders in the area for feedback,” the website reads. “Our project team is hosting open houses to chat with the community and gather local feedback. At these events we’re looking to gather general knowledge of the area – including environment and heritage resources, discuss proposed route options for the new power lines and learn about potential impacts from the project, concerns and how we can reduce impacts.”

This was echoed by Idedia.

“It (Meadow Lake open house) has been quite steady with a number of people stopping in throughout both days,” he noted. “Where exactly the route will be is yet to be determined, but we’re looking at construction beginning in the fall of 2025 and we hope to have everything completed by 2027. We’re still doing consultations… This is our last day of the open house, but comments are still welcome. People can provide us feedback through our website. We will be pooling all the information we gather, and it will be used in helping us with our decision making. The plan is to improve power reliability in the immediate area. Many stakeholders have concerns about power outages and, while this won’t eliminate outages, it should significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to restore power to the area.”

As the project moves forward, SaskPower said it will make sure environmental protection standards are in place to reduce the impact on features such as waterbodies, sensitive lands, wildlife and their habitats and heritage resources.

Among those who attend the open house last week was RM of Loon Lake reeve Greg Cardinal. While he is not opposed to efforts to improve power reliability in the area, he is not in favour of the proposed routes for the project and shared his concern, as well as the concerns of RM of Loon Lake council, in a recent letter to SaskPower and Premier Scott Moe.

“The council for the RM of Loon Lake No. 561 is not in favour of any of the routes being proposed for the new power line and switching station to improve power reliability in the Meadow Lake, Glaslyn and Spruce Lake areas,” Cardinal stated. “The RM does not want the power line crossing agricultural land or along any municipal roads within our municipality, and we feel the only acceptable routes are to have the power line travel south along Highway 4 to the (provincial) forester then west through Crown land to Highway 26, which is the RM’s recommended route. Alternatively, the power line can follow along Highway 304, west to the Highway 26 junction and then continue south along Highway 26.”

Cardinal went on to note the RM has expressed concerns regarding vegetation management and fire suppression within the right-of-way, as well as the spreading of noxious weeds and clubroot.

“The Loon Lake Fire Department has to fight fires within the SaskPower right-of-way without compensation due to vegetation and falling trees,” he said. “SaskPower will not compensate for these fires as they deem them to not be their responsibility. These costs are hard to recover for a small, volunteer fire department. The RM of Loon Lake strongly urges SaskPower to follow the route we have recommended, as we are not in favour of the power line within our municipality.”

by Phil Ambroziak