The Canadian Press (CP) November 24, 2004 Wednesday
WINNIPEG (CP) _ A private company is investing $187 million to build Manitoba’s first wind farm.
Power generated by 63 huge wind turbines near St. Leon southwest of Winnipeg will be sold to Manitoba Hydro, which in turn will export the electricity, Premier Gary Doer said Wednesday.
AirSource Power, a subsidiary of Ontario-based Algonquin Power, will own the 99-megawatt project, which was originally developed by B.C.’s Sequoia Energy. It is expected to create 300 jobs.
“We don’t want to have all our energy-source eggs just in the hydro basket,” Doer said. “We want to have a mixture of sources in our portfolio.”
Doer said the wind farm will be the largest in Canada when fully operational in December 2005. It is expected to generate enough electricity to meet the energy needs of 35,000 homes_ the equivalent usage of the city of Portage la Prairie and the town of Morden combined.
Daniel Allard, president of AirSource, said construction is expected to begin in the spring with the first wind turbines operational by next summer.
Allard said Manitoba was selected for the project because of its “steady wind source” and existing electricity grid. Provinces such as Alberta tend to only get strong winds during the winter, he said.
Doer acknowledged wind power costs more than hydroelectricity to produce, but has its benefits as well.
“Hydroelectric power is more reliable and it’s more cost effective, but sometimes when we have droughts it’s not effective at all,” Doer said.
Vic Schroeder, chairman of the Manitoba Hydro Board, said the wind power will be sold for a profit to markets in the United States.
Ottawa is contributing about $2 million a year during the next decade to the project. There is no provincial money involved, although the province expects the project will generate over $45 million in revenue through property, income, capital and sales taxes over the next 20 years.
St. Leon is about 150 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. Landowners in the area will receive $9 million over the next 25 years to have the turbines on their land.
One of them, Paul Grenier, said residents are thrilled.
“We call St. Leon the wind capital of Manitoba,” he said. “The landowners believe this will be a new cash crop. The people of St. Leon are very excited with a project of such magnitude being built in our backyard.”
Meanwhile, a private Toronto company and the Quebec government were set to announce a major windmill farm in eastern Quebec on Thursday.
A SkyPower Corp . website says the proposed windmill project would be the largest wind park undertaken in Canada with a capacity of 201 megawatts of electricity.
(Winnipeg Sun-Winnipeg Free Press)