This week’s announcement that Suncor will restart on its Forty Mile Wind project brings the cumulative budget for wind farm construction in southeast Alberta this year back over the $1-billion mark.
Six major projects are set to begin or continue with major construction in Cypress County, the County of Forty Mile, or Special Areas No. 2.
That will now include Suncor’s project, south of Winnifred, about 60 kilometres southwest of Medicine Hat.
It is one of six wind projects in the region that have been awaiting regulatory approval, technical review or have already been green-lit by companies.
Work on Suncor’s 45-turbine array, capable of producing 202 megawatts of power, was halted in the spring of 2020 as the oil giant pulled back capital spending.
In its year-end financial report on Thursday, the company announced it would restart the project, estimated to cost more than $300 million, along with other environmental efforts.
Offsets from the power facility and changing coke-fuelled boilers at oilsands facilities will lower costs and help meet sustainability costs, says CEO Mark Little.
“In 2020, we continued to execute on numerous strategic projects in support of structural free funds flow growth,” said Little in a release. “Our continued focus on disciplined cost management and capital allocation means we are moving our company toward a sustainably lower cost base while continuing to maximize the value generated from our assets.”
Suncor is the second major oilfield company with green projects in the southeast aimed at reducing carbon compliance costs. Enbridge will build the Solar One facility near Hays this summer.
Wind power though, will see major movement on several fronts in the coming construction season, as substantial work is scheduled at two other sites in Forty Mile, two near Jenner, and work nearer to the Cypress Hills could begin late in the year.
Together they comprise about 200 turbine towers with a cumulative output of about 700 megawatts in peak conditions – enough to supply Medicine Hat’s top demand three times over. Stated and estimated budgets put the total price tag at $1.3 billion.
Initial construction at Suncor Forty Mile began in late 2019 northwest of Etzikom near Highway 885.
That is near the existing Capital Power Whitla Wind farm, where that company has two expansions plans.
The Edmonton-based firm says it will complete a 27-turbine, $165-million second phase in 2021, and could start a third phase (15 turbines, $92 million) pending regulatory approval, this summer.
Closer to Medicine Hat in the Highway 3 corridor, the Rattlesnake Ridge Wind farm saw road construction in late 2019 at sites near the Hamlet of Whitla. That $200-million project, comprising 26 towers, is being built in partnership between Berkshire Hathaway Energy Canada and construction firm RES.
EDF Canada told the News last year that construction on the Cypress Wind facility south of Irvine could begin in late 2021.
That $250-million project is currently being revised to reduce tower numbers with the use of higher efficiency turbines. The project is located at the corner of highways 41 and 515, south of Irvine.
It was one of three successful projects in the region during the Alberta Renewable Energy contract process in 2018.
Two others are still awaiting final regulatory approval.
Capstone Infrastructure’s Buffalo Atlee project would be built in three relatively small phases southeast of Jenner, and produce $48 megawatts when complete.
Potentia, a division of Power Corp., plans to build the two-phase Jenner Wind project totalling 193 megawatts, north east of the intersection of Highway 884 and Township Road 210.
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