Companies plan Canada\'s biggest wind farm
CALGARY, Alberta - Enmax Corp. and Vision Quest Windelectric Inc. said this week they plan to build Canada\'s biggest wind farm in breezy southern Alberta, a C$100 million ($64 million) project aimed at spinning out enough renewable power to supply more than 32,500 homes.
Located just east of the Rocky Mountains in the heart of the country\'s fossil fuel production region, 114 turbines will produce 75 megawatts of power by the time they are fully operational next fall, the partners said.
The deal was announced just two days after privately held Vision Quest was purchased by TransAlta Corp. , a power generator best known for its coal-and natural gas-fired generating stations in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
The project did not depend on the C$37 million acquisition, but TransAlta\'s backing will allow for easier financing, Vision Quest spokesman Jason Edworthy said.
\"Fate has a way of allowing everything to come together at the right time and the right place,\" Edworthy said. \"But it\'s all come together to make it a much better deal for all parties. It reduces credit risk and makes the business case work a lot better.\"
Enmax, the city of Calgary\'s wholly owned electric utility, and Vision Quest said the 16-storey turbines will be situated on 2,700 acres (1,090 hectares) of farmland near the southern Alberta town of Fort Mcleod.
But the turbines will only take up about 1 percent of the land. \"The landowners, of course, will continue to farm and ranch and raise cattle right underneath them. The only thing that will change is that they\'ll get a little bit of revenue from them,\" Edworthy said.
Enmax, which already buys enough energy from other Vision Quest facilities to power Calgary Transit\'s commuter train system, will take all of the project\'s power, pushing renewable energy to up to 2 percent of its total supply.
The company plans to boost the small percentage, Enmax spokesman Tony McCallum said.
\"It\'s a relatively new technology and obviously an environmentally friendly technology and we hope to expand usage over time,\" McCallum said.
Currently, the largest wind farms in Canada are two 50 MW facilities in Quebec run by Axor Inc.
The bulk of Alberta\'s electricity comes from coal-fired plants. The Alberta government, which has been the most staunchly opposed to Ottawa\'s plans to ratify the Kyoto treaty on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, derives a third of its revenues from non-renewable resources, especially oil and gas.
The partners said the development will cut Canadian emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming, by 235,000 tonnes annually.
Story by Jeffrey Jones
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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