New Brunswick’s commercial wind farms came up woefully short of their electrical production targets last year, new documents reveal.
It is the fifth year in a row wind has failed to produce as much power as expected in the province.
In filings with the Energy and Utilities Board earlier this month, NB Power, which buys 100 per cent of the power produced by the three privately-owned farms, says it was supplied just below 694,000 megawatt hours (mwh) of wind generated power last year.
That’s about 210,000 mwh below output levels envisioned when the farms were agreed to.
TransAlta, the owner of New Brunswick’s largest wind farm, a group of 50 windmills on the Kent Hills in southeastern New Brunswick, says the problem has been environmental, not mechanical.
“The answer, as it turns out, is due to the fact that New Brunswick has not been as windy a place this year,” TransAlta spokesperson Stacey Hatcher said in an email to CBC News.
According to New Brunswick’s System Operator (NBSO), Kent Hills delivered 328,000 mwh of electricity to the province last year, well short of its target output of 440,000 mwh announced in press releases at the time of construction and still listed as its expected output on NB Power’s website.
The second largest wind farm in Caribou, outside Bathurst, also came up well short of its production targets, with only the smallest farm in Lamèque producing as expected.
But those production problems aren’t new. NB Power documents show the utility has failed to receive expected amounts of wind power every year since the first turbines came online in 2008 and now routinely budgets to receive less from the farms than they are supposed to produce.
For example, NB Power is budgeting to receive 779,000 mwh of wind power next year, about 130,000 mwh short of levels the facilities were designed to achieve.
Two years ago, the Alward government cancelled plans to expand large scale wind farm development in New Brunswick saying NB Power had its hands full dealing with the unpredictable output of the wind farms the province already had.
“It’s a challenge with the intermittent qualities of wind to balance that,” Energy Minister Craig Leonard said at the time.
“What we want to do is make sure we get the balancing piece down before we add any more large scale wind to the system.”
Currently, New Brunswick has 113 commercial windmills grouped in three separate locations, all of them installed between 2008 and 2010.
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