Competition blown away Two Alberta firms win big contracts for windmills in Ontario

Edmonton Journal (Alberta) November 26, 2004 Friday

EDMONTON – Two Alberta companies have been awarded contracts to supply 30 per cent of Ontario’s wind power market under clean energy supply contracts awarded by the Liberal government in Toronto.

The Alberta firms — city-owned Epcor and Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. of Calgary — will erect 67 windmills in southern Ontario for up to $200 million. Each will tower will be about 120 metres tall, nearly triple the height of the High Level Bridge. Their maximum output will be enough electricity for 37,000 homes after construction is complete in mid-2006.

The projects are only the beginning of green power growth, Canadian Hydro president John Keating said in an interview Thursday. “It’s really starting to take off. We’re going to see a lot of this development over the next 20 years ,” Keating predicted.

“Being in the business of providing renewable energy is a very important thing,” added Paul McMillan, senior vice­ president of business development with Epcor Utilities Inc.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about health effects of relying on coal-fired and nuclear power, McMillan said, adding he sees “very noticeable” and “very prevalent” desire for cleaner energy fuelled by smog alerts multiplying in steadily growing areas of Ontario.

Epcor’s Kingsbridge wind power project will generate 39.6 megawatts from 22 windmills to be built for $70-$80 million on the eastern shore of Lake Huron near Goderich, a breezy yachting centre 200 kilometres west of Toronto.

Inland and to the north in a potato-growing area around Shelburne, Canadian Hydro’s Melancthon Grey wind project will yield 67.5 megawatts with 45 windmills worth $120 million.

The installation is phase one of a massive windmill farm planned to generate 240 megawatts for construction costs of about $500 million.

The Alberta firms blew away competition in a crowded field of 41 bidders attracted by a 2003 Ontario call for clean energy proposals. Contracts were awarded to five new windmill farms with total capacity of 354.6 megawatts, and five hydroelectric and landfill-gas projects producing 40 megawatts.

A second call for green power proposals is planned in early 2005. Provincial policy calls for five percent of Ontario’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources in 2007 and 10 per cent in 2010.

The schedule requires building 1,350 megawatts of green power generation in the next three years and 2,700 megawatts by the end of the decade.

Across Canada, “there is room for many thousands more megawatts,” Keating said. The Canadian Wind Energy Association’s target of 10,000 windmill megawatts 2010 is ambitious but conceivable, he added.

Wind farms approved in Quebec and Ontario this year will generate 990 megawatts of electricity. Current national capacity is 440 megawatts.

Rising interest in wind power showed across the country Thursday.

The Atlantic Canada Energy Coalition, a group of environmental organizations, called for a 640-megawatt increase in New Brunswick power supplies using windmills, solar power and conservation.

In Manitoba, a $187-million plan was announced to build 63 windmills to generate 99 megawatts near Winnipeg.

In Quebec, Toronto-based SkyPower Corp. and Hydro Quebec announced plans to build a 200-megawatt wind energy “superpark” on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in the Riviere-du-Loup region near the New Brunswick border.

Until the big new projects are completed in Ontario and Quebec, Alberta remains the wind power leader, with current capacity of 269 megawatts, compared to 113 megawatts in second-place Quebec.

Alberta pioneered the field as its energy firms took advantage of 1990s provincial policy that encouraged independent power generation.

New wind farms use technology on a giant scale. The Ontario windmills will have fans with blades about 40 metres long on towers 80 metres high. The fans rotate at about 15 revolutions per minute. When stopped with one of the three blades pointing straight up, the structures tower 120 metres above the ground.

gjaremko@thejournal.canwest.com WINDY FACTS

Current capacity in Canada is:

269 megawatts in Alberta

113 megawatts in Quebec

22 megawatts in Saskatchewan

15 megawatts in Ontario

14 megawatts in Prince Edward Island

five megawatts in Nova Scotia

one megawatt in the Yukon