The number of proposed Alberta wind projects has dramatically increased since the province removed restrictions on the sale of wind power last fall.
The Alberta Electric System Operator now has applications from companies hoping to generate 10,500 megawatts of wind power, said Neil Millar, vice-president of transmission.
To put that into perspective, Alberta’s record electricity demand, set one January evening earlier this year, was 9,710 megawatts.
The electric system operator is forecasting a need for an additional 5,000 megawatts of capacity over the next 10 years.
Currently, wind generators in the province are capable of producing 530 megawatts, Millar said.
Power generators must apply to the AESO to ensure they can connect with transmission lines to move their power once projects begin operating.
The number of projects on the books surged last summer, Millar said. “It was a flood.”
The rush was sparked in part by the province’s decision to lift restrictions on how much wind-generated electricity could be sold.
The cap had been 900 megawatts.
Millar expects some proposed projects won’t go ahead for competitive reasons. Everything from the price of land to technical choices could affect a project’s viability, he said.
But when he talks to individual developers, each of them thinks their project will be the one to succeed.
Bullfrog Power moved into Alberta last June partly because they saw unfulfilled potential in the wind market, said Theresa Howland, the company’s western region vice-president.
The company provides electricity to residents and businesses in Ontario and Alberta by purchasing power from wind generators.
“The key thing is it’s great there are so many projects that have potential in Alberta.
“Whether it all comes to fruition or not, at least we know there’s a clean resource to be tapped,” Howland said.
19 April 2008
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