A fledgling Calgary company proposes a $200-million wind farm near Red Deer to feed Alberta’s growing power needs.
Greengate Power Corp. has talked to landowners about setting up 50 windmills on 30 quarter sections on and around Radar Hill.
Radar Hill is between Pine Lake and Red Deer, 16 km east of the Red Deer Regional Airport. The area is a high point of land once used by the Department of National Defence as a NORAD radar site.
Greengate president Dan Balaban said Radar Hill is one of six projects being considered at key sites in South and Central Alberta.
“Obviously we want areas that are windy – spots that are high relative to the land around them. Radar Hill is a high spot that has caught our attention.”
Selected sites have existing transmission lines with the capacity to accept new power. Having the infrastructure in place will lower costs and ease the approval process, said Balaban.
The Radar Hill project would produce up to 100 megawatts of power. Averaged over a year, that would power the homes in Red Deer, estimated Balaban.
Wind turbines would be connected through underground power lines that tie into a substation feeding the Alberta transmission system.
“It would be among the largest projects in Alberta,” Balaban said.
Enmax recently opened a wind farm near Taber. It has 37 windmills and is the largest in Alberta.
Balaban said his company met with about 50 landowners who, if they agree, would have the 80-metre-tall windmills erected on their properties.
But longtime farmer Jack Olson, who owns land in the area, said he’s skeptical that the project will proceed.
Olson said required setbacks for the windmills would make it difficult to place them in the more populated west end of the area.
Local land values are higher than some other wind farm sites in Alberta. But the compensation offered to landowners isn’t high enough relative to those values, he said.
“It may be hard to convince people,” said Olson, whose son also owns land in the area.
But Balaban said the concerns need to be balanced against the economic and social benefits. Landowners would receive compensation based on a percentage of production. As well, jobs would be created in setting up and maintaining the windmills.
Wind power is also considered environmentally friendly since it doesn’t produce greenhouse gases.
“If you go to Denmark, Spain or the Netherlands, windmills are all over the place and it’s quite common to see it in the landscape,” said Balaban.
Alberta’s power demands are increasing and renewable energy from windmills is part of the solution, he said.
“Wind power is the most advanced of the renewable energy technologies. It is also economically feasible.”
The company also proposes projects near Halkirk, Wintering Hills near Drumheller and various sites in Southern Alberta. The cost of each project is estimated at around $200 million.
Greengate Power is a private company that formed this year. It has four employees and about 30 consultants.
Balaban, a former management consultant and software company founder, said other companies are also looking to start wind farms, so Greengate is trying to gain a competitive edge.
By Andrea Miller
30 October 2007
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