SaskPower teaches public about power challenges

Jodi Schellenberg
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Not everyone understand where electricity comes from, but SaskPower is touring the province giving answers.

The SaskPower to Grow tour visited the Prince Albert Polkafest on Sunday morning, a fun, informative and interactive project to teach people about the past, present and future of electricity in the province.

“We are here to talk to people about the infrastructure challenge that SaskPower is facing,” said Kyle Derrick, leader of the SaskPower to Grow tour.

“What it is, is that SaskPower has one of the oldest power infrastructures in the country and SaskPower is going to be investing into Saskatchewan about $1 billion per year over the next three years, just to upgrade the infrastructure to make sure that power outages will occur less and less over the years,” he added. “With the growing province, it is important to make sure we can maintain our power for everyone as the demand increases and our population increases.”

The electrical infrastructure in Saskatchewan is between 40 to 50 years old and has reached the end of its useful life, which means it is time the replace the assets.

“I think people should be aware of a lot of the power poles, for example, there are more power poles than people in Saskatchewan so a lot of those will need to be replaced,” Derrick said.

“As well, SaskPower is investigating a whole mix of different supply options, including a carbon capture program near Estevan near a place called Boundary Dam,” he added. “What that is is essentially the carbon capture emissions are able to be captured or restored underground, reused or resold in order to repower that plant. There are a lot of really interesting projects on the go.”

The tour helps people understand the challenges of creating power to the public. One of the interesting tools they were using is a stationary bike.

“We have a power bike to show how difficult it might be to generate power and it shows you equivalently how much power is generated as you peddle the bike,” Derrick said.

The bike is hooked up to a TV and people are asked to hop on the bike and peddle as hard as they can for 15 seconds.

“It shows them how much watts they have created and equivalently what that would power in their home via a TV, light bulb or cell phone,” Derrick said.

“People are generally around 30 watts of power that they can generate and if they pedal at that speed for an hour, it will approximately power your cell phone for about five hours,” he added. “You wouldn’t actually be able to turn on a TV like that and you might get about eight hours out of a light bulb.”

Another tool they use are iPads, which allow the user to read the symbols in the back of their tent to learn more about different topics.

“What pops up on the screen is what we call augmented reality -- it is kind of like a 3D image that pops up on the screen and then a video will play and talk about various different things,” Derrick said. “One symbol will show how the different mix of power is generated -- for example it will show you how coal power is generated, how wind power is created.

“The tour can be customized to the decade of each participant that goes through the tent,” he added. “For example, if someone is born in the 1970s, it will talk about different projects that were occurring in the province that SaskPower was doing in the 1970s.”

Those running the tour can also demonstrate how much power is required to build your ideal home.

So far, the response from communities has been great.

“People have been really happy to see us at their events,” Derrick said. “We have been quite the attraction and so far people commonly don’t think about their power and how it is generated.

“People are really genuinely interested in the process of how our power is generated and how some people weren’t aware of the infrastructure challenge and some people were but people are able to learn a little bit more about the specifics of the challenge,” he added.

They have already toured a great deal of the province and will continue into the fall.

“We are going to be doing a bit of a school tour in the fall, so if people were interested in having us come out to their schools, we would definitely encourage them to give SaskPower a call and that information would get relayed to us,” Derrick said. “We would love to come out.”

Organizations: SaskPower

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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