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Alberta wire put on hold

Alberta has put a 75-kilometer transmission project on hold after interest dwindled for wind farm development in the area southeast of Lethbridge.

The Alberta Electric System Operator said it doesn’t know when the 240kV Etzikom Coulee to Whitla (ECW) line will proceed.

“Wind generation development in the area has not progressed at the pace originally anticipated,” said AESO.

The proposed line is part of the multi-stage Southern Alberta Transmission Reinforcement (SATR) project approved in 2009. SATR was designed to alleviate existing system constraints and to integrate about 3000MW of southern Alberta wind generation.

ECW is a stage 2 project. Two additional stage 2 projects are proceeding. AESO and transmission facility owner AltaLink are conducting technical and engineering studies for the 70-kilometer Picture Butte to Etzikom Coulee and 170- to 220-kilometer Goose Lake to Etzikom Coulee wires.

AESO has also cancelled a SATR stage 3 transmission project because it is no longer needed. A new double circuit 240kV line was to connect two substations east of Calgary, Ware Junction and Langdon.

Alberta operates Canada’s only deregulated electricity market and wind farm owners face low power prices and difficulty securing offtake agreements and financing.

Mainstream Renewable Power is constructing the 46MW Oldman 2 scheme after retail giant Ikea agreed to buy the project.

EDF EN Canada and Enbridge commissioned the 300MW Blackspring Ridge wind farm this spring. Renewable energy credits are contracted to California’s Pacific Gas and Electric under a 20-year purchase agreement while the electricity will be sold into the Alberta power pool.