The Municipal Planning Committee granted Enel Alberta Wind Inc. a suspension on their development permit for phase two of the Castle Rock Ridge wind farm project at a meeting earlier in the month.
In the next stage EAWI intends to add 14 previously-approved turbines to the already existing wind plant located just south of the Oldman Reservoir. However, they are held up by a lack of routing information for AltaLink’s Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock transmission lines that will run through the development.
In their application for suspension to the MPC the energy company stated they, “cannot commit to the purchase and construction of the fourteen (14) Phase 2 WECs until the details of the transmission line routing are known. The elimination of one or more WECs may be required.”
As set out in the municipality’s land use bylaw, wind developments are subject to a strict five-year maximum timeline with construction starting within two years from when the permit was issued.
This is the second time that the developer asked to pause phase two of their project. While the MD issued the original development permit in 2010 they now have until December 2016 to begin construction.
“Especially a big thing like the wind farm, that’s a huge industrial development,” the MD’s director of development and community services, Roland Milligan, said. “You know, you’re talking a hundred million dollar development so there has been those type of delays. Every wind farm we’ve had pretty much, except for the first few that were built, had to have extensions on their timeline.”
The Alberta Utilities Commission also granted EWAI a time extension back in April of this year.
“The way it’s been, these wind farms have been approved and then they have to wait for transmission lines to be built so they can hook into it,” Milligan said.
Additional permit fees are not required for the MD’s permit timeline suspension and the MD is not banking on the development in upcoming budgets. Nevertheless, once completed, the additional turbines would generate both power and tax revenue for the area.
“We’re not expecting it, but if it ever gets built it would be a benefit for taxes for the MD for sure,” Milligan said. “But we wait until it’s up and running.”
Enel’s current Castle Rock wind farm, with a generation capacity of 76 MW, was connected to the grid via a new substation and nine kilometres of lines back in March of 2012. A year earlier the AUC determined that AESO’s needs documents did not justify the Fidler to Chapel Rock project and subsequently determined that power lines should run south of the reservoir.
Now, proposed lines for the new Castle Ridge Rock to Chapel Rock project that replaces the cancelled FCR venture may run through Enel’s plant.
Matt Gray, corporate communications for AESO, touched on the problems of developing generation and transmission infrastructure at the same time at recent open house in Pincher Creek.
“So that’s what the challenge was, to come up with a way to align the pace of transmission development with the pace of generation development,” Gray said.
The AESO recently paused three other SATR components, including the Goose Lake to Etzikom Coulee transmission project, saying in a statement they will apply with the AUC to amend the projects’ approval ensuring that transmission development paces generation.
Enel Alberta Wind Inc. is a subsidiary of Rome-based power giant Enel.
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