TransCanada Corp. is set to take another step on a path that will make it one of Canada’s largest windpower operators, with plans to build an up-to-$300 million US wind farm in the mountains of Maine.
The company said Wednesday it is about to seek formal approval to build a 44-turbine windfarm in the Kibby Mountain Range, just south of the Quebec-Maine Border. The $250 million US to $300 million US project will see the 124-metre-high turbines built along 22 kilometres of ridge line in the Kibby Mountain Range just south of the Quebec border.
“This is one of the premier wind development sites in New England,” TransCanada spokeswoman Jennifer Varey said Wednesday from the firm’s Calgary headquarters. Construction on the project would begin in the fall of 2007, have some power by late fall 2008 and be completed in 2009, she said.
“We’ve spent quite a bit of time very diligently evaluating the economic and environmental details and measuring the wind. We had three meterological towers or met masts that have been measuring the wind resource,” Varey added.
The TransCanada facility, once fully implemented would provide about 132 megawatts of power to the Maine and New England power market. The project must still be approved by the Maine Land Use Regulatory Commission.
The decision to go ahead with the project marks the latest step in a series of projects and proposals that will make TransCanada a major wind power player in the next few years from a standing start in early 2004.
“We’re continually looking at opportunities and power markets and where things are going and as wind has become more economically viable it’s something we’ve taken a much closer look at,” said Varey.
TransCanada has about 7,700 megawatts of power production in its portfolio, including interests in nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas-fired and hydro-electric.
“It is certainly something that we are focused on; growing our power business.”
At the beginning of December TransCanada began producing commercial power from its Cartier Wind Energy Inc. joint venture project with Innergex II Income Fund in the Baie-des-Sables area of Quebec, marking completion of the the first, 110-megawatt, stage of a six-phase network that will eventually push out 740 megawatts of wind power. The second and third phases of Cartier, which will be built in stages to 2012, are either being constructed or under regulatory review, Varey said.
TransCanada is also intending to pursue on its own further opportunities in Quebec, where the distribution arm of the provincial utility giant Hydro Quebec is seeking proposals that would add a further 2,000 megawatts of windpower production in the province. “This would be beyond Cartier and this would be TransCanada itself, not a partnership,” Varey said.
“Cartier will position us as one of the largest windpower developers in Canada and when you add is some of these other projects we do become a pretty significant player,” she noted.
Although wind power is environmentally popular and increasing economically viable, in jurisdictions such as Alberta and Ontario, the volume of wind proposals have raised concerns about variability issue of wind generation affecting the stability of the distribution network, leading authorities to cap levels in Alberta. Varey suggested those concerns are not a factor in New England.
By Geoffrey Scotton, CanWest News Service; Calgary Herald
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