BluEarth Renewables Inc. of Calgary says it will begin construction next month on its $80-million Bull Creek Wind Project in east central Alberta after winning regulatory approval last week for an amended project that’s smaller than originally planned.
The original project northeast of Provost near the Saskatchewan border was approved a year ago and would have had capacity of up to 115 megawatts, with up to 46 wind turbines. The revised project, just given Alberta Utilities Commission approval, is to produce 29.2 MW from 17 wind turbines with startup by the end of the year.
“The main reason (for the revision) is to size it to the power purchase agreements we have in place. Twenty-five school boards,” said president and chief executive Kent Brown, who added the company won’t expand Bull Creek but hopes to repeat its model elsewhere.
“We have another project called the Hand Hills Wind Project (northeast of Drumheller). It’s fully permitted but to date there are no PPAs in place. But we certainly would like to build more than one wind plant in Alberta. We have a number of solar sites in southern Alberta that we are advancing as well but no off-takers at this point.”
The electricity produced at the Bull Creek project will flow via existing power line onto the provincial grid – the project is small enough to not require its own substation – at approximately the level required by its school board customers. If it produces more than required, the excess will be sold into the Alberta power pool market; if it comes up short, power will be purchased from the market.
The turbine blades rotate in a 103-metre arc and are mounted on 80-metre-tall towers.
Brown said the power price each school board will pay over the life of their 25-year agreements is confidential but it’s competitive with other sources.
“It was a competitive process and they had the choice to go to any other provider … they chose our proposal and our pricing,” he said.
Brown said BluEarth, founded in 2010, is on track to have $750 million of operating assets by the end of 2015 and $1 billion of operating assets by 2017.
It is backed by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Calgary’s ARC Financial, he said, and is profitable, without giving numbers.
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