At least nine known wind power projects in southeast Alberta continue to be in limbo following a meeting with a director of the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) in Medicine Hat Friday afternoon.
Bill Strongman, director, regional system planning, for AESO was here to provide his organization’s recommendations on addressing transmission system requirements required in southeastern Alberta.
AESO is a non-profit organization created by provincial legislation which operates the province’s wholesale electric market. It also plans the transmission system, arranges access for load and generation, and directs the day-to-day operation of the transmission system.
Transmission shortfalls have been a concern for wind power developers over the past few years. More recently a major concern has been the December, 2006 moratorium of 900 megawatts (MW) imposed by AESO. That cap has caused costly delays in getting approval for a large number of proposed wind power projects throughout the province – not just the southeast region.
The proposed upgrades will have to go through a public consultation process which is scheduled for later this summer.
As for the moratorium on wind power projects, Strongman stated that he was hopeful it would be revised upwards considerably in December.
Participants at the meeting voiced considerable frustration with the moratorium and the lengthy process to-date.
“We offered to help last December with a consultation process and although the AESO agreed, nothing happened even though we kept asking,” said Harold Wilson, executive director of the Economic Development Alliance of Southeastern Alberta, in an interview afterwards.
“We sincerely hope that the commitment today (Friday) is seriously taken by them.”
Wilson added the 900 MW moratorium continues to be a major roadblock to wind farm development in the area.
Carla Plava, vice-president Western Canada for Pteragen – a wind power developer – was also frustrated.
Half of his proposed 116 MW wind power farm south of the Black and White trail was approved prior to the moratorium.
“There’s certainly frustration just waiting for the details,” he said.
Cypress County Reeve Jack Osadczuk said he was disappointed that the AESO didn’t want to discuss the benefits of clean energy like wind power.
He also said he felt sorry for the people trying to develop wind power because of all the delays.
By ANGUS HENDERSON
Jun 16, 2007
Medicine Hat News
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