January 23rd, 2018

Wind farm projects coming to region


By Mabell, Dave on December 18, 2017.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

It’s a $1-billion shot in the arm.

And most of that private investors’ cash will be spent in southern Alberta in the coming year, harnessing wind energy to power our homes and businesses.

Three of the four wind farm projects announced by the provincial government this month will rise in the south, near Pincher Creek or Bow Island. The fourth will be built northeast of Hanna, potentially benefitting a community impacted by long-term plans to phase out coal-fired power generation.

All four were selected by the Alberta Electric System Operator, an arms-length agency that invited companies to bid on building renewable energy projects. Details for a second round of bids will be announced next year.

Edmonton-based Capital Power will build a 201-megawatt wind farm near Whitlaw, while the system operator also approved a proposal from Enel Renewables Canada Ltd. to build a 115-MW project at Riverview, near Pincher Creek. The company will also add 31 MW to the Castle Rock Ridge wind farm nearby.

A third company, EDP Renewables Canada Ltd. was given the go-ahead for a 248-MW wind farm at Sharp Hills, east of Hanna. All will connect directly to existing transmission lines.

“Our industry looks forward to working collaboratively with communities across the province to deliver significant local economic benefit, as Alberta capitalizes on its untapped potential to deploy clean, reliable and affordable wind energy,” says Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

Combined, the newly approved projects will add about 600 MW of renewable power to Alberta’s electrical system – enough to power nearly 255,000 homes, officials say. They’re also expected to create about 700 construction jobs, and 40 long-term positions to maintain the wind farms.

Capital already owns 4,500 MW of power generation, officials point out, including 500 MW of wind generation in Alberta. British Columbia and Ontario.

Portugal-based EDP, the world’s fourth-largest wind generation firm, has wind farms in Ontario and in 15 other nations. Enel Green Power, from Italy, already operates a 76 MG wind farm at Castle Rock Ridge, and also generates in Ontario, Newfoundland and 15 other countries.

Work will begin in the new year, Alberta Energy officials say, and all four projects are scheduled to be completed in 2019.

Longer-term – over the next dozen years – energy officials estimate investment will grow to $10 billion, creating about 5,000 MW of renewable energy along with 7,200 construction jobs. Officials also cited advances in wind power technology, offering significant consumer cost advantages.

The weighted average price of the power from the new farms is reported as 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with a weighted average of 8.5 cents reported in Ontario just a year ago.

“These prices are beyond expectations, highlighting the strong potential of renewable energy in Alberta,” says Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd.

It also reflects “the quality of the competitive process” as well as the positive response investors are showing to Alberta’s economy, she says.

“This is a win for power generators, a win for the environment and a win for Albertans.”

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