November 29th, 2021

Whitla Wind farm will be largest in Alberta after planned expansions

By COLLIN GALLANT on June 24, 2020.

The foundation of wind turbine station awaits a concrete pour at the site of the Capital Power Whitla Windfarm, south of Bow Island in May 2019. The company stated on Wednesday, May 29, that tower sections for the massive turbines should begin arriving in Foremost by rail this week and an onsite concrete plant will begin fill the rebar sections soon. -- SUPPLIED PHOTO

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

The Whitla Wind farm will become the largest in Alberta, according to new construction plan announced Tuesday by owner Capital Power, which said a second expansion will be rolled into work on an additional phase next year.

The Edmonton-based electricity producer said Tuesday that it will build a previously unannounced third phase to the array of turbines that sit south of Bow Island, southwest of Medicine Hat.

Combined with Phase 2, the work will add 151 megawatts of production capacity to the existing wind farm that went into operations in late 2019.

“Once all three phases of the Whitla Wind facility are completed by the end of 2021, it will be Alberta’s largest wind facility with 353 megawatts of generation capacity,” said Brian Vaasjo, Capital Power’s president.

The company proceeded with substation construction this summer, and building access roads to turbine sites should commence in the fall, with turbine delivery and tower construction set for the spring of 2021 and ahead of an inservice date of late next year.

The News was first to report that the company had secured its turbine orders this spring amidst confusion in global manufacturing, trade and logistics sectors.

Now, the combined construction cost of planned work is about $260 million, including $92 million to add 15 turbines in Whitla 3 in the vicinity east of the Forty Mile Coulee.

That work is still subject to approval from utility regulators, but Capital Power has received approval to construct the $165-million Whitla 2 in the area. That 27-turbine array has a name-plate capacity of 97 megawatts.

Whitla 1 was completed in late 2019 at a cost of $325 million. It can generate 202-megawatts, which would bring the total of the facility at completion to 353 megawatts.

That’s more than the 300-megawatt Blackspring Ridge in Vulcan County that was completed in 2014 in partnership between Enbridge and French multi-national power producer EDF.

The next largest plant in current operation is Whitla 1, then Capital Power’s central Alberta operations in Halkirk, Alta. (150 megawatts).

EDPR’s Sharp Hills wind project near Oyen is designed to produce 300 megawatts, and has been delayed by regulatory challenges, but is now approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission.

EDF-led project Cypress Wind, to be located between Dunmore and the Cypress Hills, would produce 201.6 megawatts, though the company is delaying construction set for this year until 2021.

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