May 26th, 2024

Long planned wind farm will finally go ahead in Cypress County

By COLLIN GALLANT on May 10, 2022.

A 15-year-old plan to build a major wind farm in Cypress County will move forward after the new owner announced Monday a contract to sell most of the power produced at the site near Seven Persons.

The Wildrose Wind farm was first approved in 2007 – so long ago the applicant was required to apply a half dozen times to amend the in-service date for the turbine array located 30 kilometres southwest of Medicine Hat.

After the most recent renewal, one phase of the project was acquired by Capstone Infrastructure, which said this week it has a power purchase agreement with Pembina Pipelines and will start construction next year.

“We have been eyeing this project for several years,” David Eva, president of Capstone, told the News on Monday. “We identified this as an excellent project, great access to the transmission grid, an ability to build the project in line with the local considerations, and it took some time to bring into (our) portfolio.

“It’s really crystallized the project and our ability to move it forward.”

Capstone announced it has a contract to provide 105 megawatts from the facility’s 198-megawatt capacity to Pembina Pipelines under a 15-year contract, as that company looks to offset its own carbon footprint.

The Toronto-based renewable power company is also working in the area to complete the Buffalo Atlee wind farm, north of CFB Suffield, and is also owner and operator of the large-scale Claresholm Solar facility.

Eva said work at Wildrose could commence in late 2022 or early 2023 after the company seeks to update regulatory approvals and arrangement of the site.

Previous owner, Naturener, most recently applied for regulatory approval in 2017 stating the array would comprise 63 turbines, each capable of producing 3 megawatts in peak conditions. As is common in lengthy approvals and advancements in turbine technology, Capstone says it plans to use higher-capacity machines from Siemens Gamesa (a supply agreement was also announced) and the number of towers would be reduced to 38. Those locations are still being finalized, said Eva.

“It means fewer turbines to meet the same output as planned,” said Eva. “It should make the project that much better from environmental and local stakeholder standpoint.”

Buffalo Atlee Wind Farm, in Special Areas No. 2 and planned to produce 58 megawatts in peak conditions, could also be completed in 2023.

Portions of the multi-phase project won a 20-year supply contract with the Alberta Electrical Systems operator in 2018.

Capstone also operates the relatively small Riverhurst Wind farm near Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan, and is also moving ahead with two solar fields, known as Kneehill and Michichi, near Drumheller.

“It really speaks to Capstone’s continuing excitement to work in Alberta and the market,” said Eva. “And there’s a desire of corporations are going out and seeking renewable energy to meet their environmental goals.

“We’re excited to keep building our presence in Alberta.”

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