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Wind farm contract awarded

Capital Power Corporation has hired Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Canada Inc. as the main contractor for construction of the Halkirk Wind Project, which could become the largest wind project in Alberta.

“With the construction mobilization of Halkirk, RES Canada marks its entrance into the Alberta renewable energy market. This will be our first wind construction project in Western Canada as we continue to extend our green footprint,” said Jason Zingerman, vice president of construction with RES Canada.

Capital Power LP (CPLP), a subsidiary of Edmonton-based Capital Power Corporation, awarded the balance of plant construction contract for the 150 megawatt project on Jan. 24.

CPLP acquired 100 per cent of Halkirk I Wind Project LP and Halkirk I Wind Project Ltd in May 2011.

As a result of the acquisition, Capital Power will build, own and operate the Halkirk Wind Project in central Alberta.

It will be located near the town of Halkirk, 40 kilometres east of Stettler.

The project is divided into two 150 MW phases – Halkirk I and Halkirk II.

The Halkirk I Wind Project involves the construction of 83 V90 Vestas turbines, each rated at 1.8 MW.

Each wind turbine generator will be mounted on top of an 80 metre tower with a rotor diameter of 77 metres. The turbines are connected to a substation.

The proposed wind farm has been approved for a 34.5-kilovolt gathering system, which consists of underground and overhead power to collect the power generated by the turbines.

The estimated total project cost for the Halkirk wind project is $357 million, with capital expenditures of $190 million in 2011.

This included $33 million spent in the second quarter for the acquisition of intangible assets and about $157 million for construction of the project throughout 2011.

The expenditures incurred to date include $33 million for permits and land lease rights, and an $18 million payment to the supplier of the wind turbines.

In preparation for the start of construction in early 2012, pre-construction work including land clearing and road building, which has been completed over the past few months. About 30 km to 40 km of new roads will be required for the project.

Each turbine requires a road off of the nearest main road to allow for servicing of the unit.

The road work for the substation has been completed. Upgrades required on county roads will not begin until spring.

The majority of the work to date has taken place in the northwest corner of the project around turbines one through 30.

Gravel stockpiling for the project will be ongoing throughout winter to avoid delays from the annual spring road ban.

Capital Power purchased an existing building from the County of Paintearth in the summer, which will be used as an operations and maintenance building for the project.

Another building is currently being built to serve as the permanent office for Capital Power’s operations, maintenance and administrative staff.

Turbines will be assembled and erected starting in the northwest area of the project footprint and will continue towards the southeast end of the project.

Once the foundation is prepared, it only takes a few days to erect each turbine.

Additional time is required to complete the wiring and mechanical work.

The project will create 100 to 200 jobs during construction and between five and 10 full-time jobs when the facility is operational.

About 250,000 person hours of direct employment is expected to be generated throughout the construction phase of the project.

The expected completion date for Phase 1 is the fourth quarter of 2012. When the entire project is completed, it will produce enough electricity to provide power to 50,000 homes and should be Alberta’s largest operating wind energy project.