The SAAEP Region is Part of the Great Canadian Wind-patch
The first utility-scale wind farms in Canada were built here. Beginning with Cowley Ridge in 1993, and Castle River in 1997, wind energy has continued to thrive as an important source of pollution-free electricity, and economic driver, in Southern Alberta.
Today, the province has a wind energy capacity of 1,479MW, featuring over 900 turbines from several leading manufacturers such as Vestas, Enercon, GE and Siemens. In regards to electricity prices, wind in Alberta has actually helped decrease costs for rate-payers, thanks to the “wind discount” that requires wind operators to bid into the power pool at rock-bottom prices. This however has created an uneconomic situation for windfarm operators. The last four major wind projects to be built in Alberta (Halkirk, Blacksprings Ridge, Old Man 2, and Bull Creek) were all financed through long term PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) with third parties.
The upcoming AESO Renewable Energy Program is auctioning an initial slate of 400MW of new clean energy. It will offer proponents a fixed price, weighed against the floating pool price (called a Contract-for-Differences). This will help ensure developers have a sustainable, long-term return on investment, while keeping power prices within a cost-effective range. The first Alberta wind-farms with stable, provincial contracts for competitive clean energy are expected to be announced in the fourth quarter of 2017, with construction beginning in early 2018.
Economic Benefits Snapshot
The following statistics are from the CanWEA Vision 2025, published in 2014.
“Wind energy development pays significant economic dividends. Every 150 MW of new capacity represents:
- $316 million in investment
- 140 full-time equivalent jobs in construction
- 10 permanent jobs in operations and maintenance
- $17 million in lease payments to landowners over 20 years
- $31 million in property tax payments to municipalities over 20 years”
CanWEA Operations & Maintenance Summit Sessions 2017 (Audio)