The Saskatchewan electricity market is much more heavily regulated than those of other provinces, such as Alberta and Ontario. This is because the majority of Saskatchewan, historically, has had a low population, dispersed across large rural areas. This made it commercially unfeasible to provide farmers and other rural residents with access to electricity and natural gas.
In 1929, the provincial government of Saskatchewan established the Saskatchewan Power Commission (renamed SaskPower as of 1987), tasking it with the responsibility of providing all the province’s residents with electricity. At the time, this required a decades-long effort to build an electricity transmission and distribution network that was accessible to the large rural province’s many far flung residents.
The current state of Saskatchewan’s energy market is due to these early regulatory efforts.
Ultimately, under the powers provided by the Power Corporation Act, SaskPower was granted the exclusive franchise for the transmission and distribution of the electricity, with the exception of two pre-existing municipal utilities: Saskatoon Light & Power and Swift Current Light & Power, both of which purchase their electricity from SaskPower and handle local distribution.
Private enterprises have the right to construct and operate power generation stations—currently, there are plants in Saskatchewan owned by Northland Power, TransAlta, ATCO, and other companies—but SaskPower has an exclusive monopoly on transmission, distribution, and billing of customers.
Residents of Saskatchewan do not currently have the ability to contract with private businesses for their electricity needs. However, they do have the ability to purchase natural gas from commercial retailers.