A Fortune 500 Canadian energy company recently bought a long-delayed Grant County wind farm, paying $200 million for the project, which they hope will be up and running in a year.
Enbridge, a Calgary, Alberta-based pipeline and energy company, announced Wednesday that it bought the New Creek Wind Project and plans to have the 49-turbine farm in operation in December 2016.
Once operational, it would be West Virginia’s sixth wind farm, according to the state Department of Commerce. Five of those are clustered in the northeastern part of the state. An Enbridge spokesman did not respond to specific questions about the project.
Enbridge is the third company to own the New Creek project, which has been in development since at least 2008, when it applied for a permit with the state Public Service Commission. It would place the turbines on a seven-mile stretch of ridgeline near Greenland in northern Grant County, running north to the Mineral County line.
AES, a Virginia-based power company, first proposed the wind project, but it stalled in 2012 after federal permitting problems. EverPower, a Pittsburgh-based wind company, bought the project in 2014.
The project’s organizers originally planned for 64 turbines and 160 megawatts of power generation, but that has been scaled down.
The 49 turbines are now projected to produce 103 megawatts of power. For comparison’s sake, the recently shuttered Kanawha River coal power plant in Glasgow was capable of producing about 400 megawatts of power.
Enbridge has signed a contract with Gamesa, a Spanish company, to provide the 49 turbines.
Each one will be massive. The hub of each turbine will be between 255 and 400 feet off the ground. Each blade will be 155 feet long, about half a football field.
Enbridge’s primary business is oil and gas pipelines. With about $34 billion in annual revenues and 11,000 employees, the company ranks 351 on the Fortune-500 list. The company has the world’s longest crude oil and liquids pipeline system, which runs throughout Canada and the United States, from the Northwest Territories to the Gulf of Mexico.
But over the last several years Enbridge has begun to branch more and more into renewable energy.
The company has invested about $5 billion (Canadian) in renewable power projects since 2002.
“The New Creek Wind Project is a strong fit within our low-risk value proposition and advances a key corporate priority of growing our renewable generation platform,” Vern Yu, an Enbridge vice president, said in a prepared statement.
Alberta, where Enbridge is based, is home to the tar sands, much discussed in the debate over the Keystone Pipeline. The province’s economy, the largest per capita in Canada, has long been dominated by fossil fuel production. But on Sunday, Alberta laid out an ambitious new agenda to combat climate change, an announcement Enbridge embraced.
The contrast is striking between Alberta’s move toward a climate change policy and the reticence of U.S. energy-producing states to do anything of the sort.
In the U.S., 24 states, West Virginia among them, have sued to stop the White House’s primary effort to combat climate change, and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey just wrote a letter to 10 foreign leaders to remind them of that fact.
But Alberta, which got 55 percent of its electricity from coal last year, just pledged to phase out coal use by 2030.
The province also said it will implement a carbon tax in 2017, placed a 100-megaton cap on carbon emissions from the tar sands and vowed to get 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Renewables currently account for about 9 percent of Alberta’s electricity, according to the province’s Energy Ministry.
“We are going to do our part to address one of the world’s greatest problems,” Rachel Notley, Alberta’s premier, said in announcing the plan. “We are going to put capital to work, investing in new technologies, better efficiency and job-creating investments in green infrastructure.”
Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge, said his company was “encouraged and supportive” of the climate plan.
“We think it’s a turning point for our province and our industry,” Monaco said in a prepared statement. “The plan lays the groundwork for Alberta to become a leader in addressing climate change, while acknowledging the need to maintain the competitiveness of Alberta’s energy sector and its contribution to our provincial and national economies.”
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