New low-cost wind en­ergy AB con­tracts re­duce green­house gas emis­sions

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Environment -

The Cana­dian Wind En­ergy As­so­ci­a­tion (CanWEA) com­mends the Al­berta Elec­tric Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor (AESO) and the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta for its con­tin­u­ing suc­cess in at­tract­ing some of the low­est prices ever seen for wind en­ergy gen­er­a­tion in Canada, as re­vealed just be­fore Christ­mas with the an­nounce­ment of con­tracts for Rounds Two and Three of the Al­berta Re­new­able Elec­tric­ity Pro­gram (REP). The AESO will se­cure power from five new wind en­ergy projects rep­re­sent­ing 763 megawatts (MW) of ca­pac­ity at an av­er­age weighted price of $39 per megawatt-hour.

Since REP was orig­i­nally an­nounced in 2016, the AESO has awarded con­tracts to projects that will nearly dou­ble Al­berta’s in­stalled wind en­ergy ca­pac­ity, po­si­tion­ing Al­berta as the lead­ing province for wind en­ergy in­vest­ment in the coun­try to­day. Th­ese com­mit­ments will re­sult in a 10 per cent in­crease to Canada’s in­stalled wind en­ergy ca­pac­ity, which cur­rently sits at just un­der 13,000 MW.

The com­pa­nies be­hind the projects an­nounced re­cently have each signed a 20-year In­dexed Re­new­able En­ergy Credit (IREC) agree­ment with the AESO, pro­vid­ing pre­dictable rev­enues while pro­tect­ing Al­ber­tans against in­creases in the price of power. Un­der the IREC, when the mar­ket price is lower than the con­tracted price, the gen­er­a­tor will be paid the dif­fer­ence; and when the mar­ket price is higher, gen­er­a­tors will be re­quired to pay back the dif­fer­ence to the gov­ern­ment.

As man­dated by the pro­cure­ment process, all of the projects pro­vid­ing power through REP Round 2 (363 MW) meet the re­quired min­i­mum 25 per cent eq­uity part­ner­ship with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. Such part­ner­ships have also been seen in other ju­ris­dic­tions across Canada and have proven to pro­vide train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, jobs, rev­enue shar­ing and other eco­nomic ben­e­fits to par­tic­i­pat­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

The projects an­nounced are ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional by mid-2021.

The wind en­ergy in­dus­try looks for­ward to de­tails about the sched­ule of fu­ture pro­cure­ments for new re­new­able en­ergy and will be ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in the process.

“By at­tract­ing in­vest­ment in the wind en­ergy projects an­nounced to­day, Al­berta is di­ver­si­fy­ing its econ­omy, driv­ing eco­nomic growth and cre­at­ing much­needed jobs in mul­ti­ple sec­tors such as en­gi­neer­ing, con­struc­tion and lo­cal ser­vices. Indige­nous and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties around the province will ben­e­fit from the em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, and in­come streams as­so­ci­ated with own­er­ship, mu­nic­i­pal tax­a­tion or lease pay­ments for landown­ers. We are pleased that th­ese com­pet­i­tive re­new­able elec­tric­ity pro­cure­ments are re­sult­ing in very low costs for the non-emit­ting elec­tric­ity that Al­berta needs,” said Robert Hor­nung, Pres­i­dent, Cana­dian Wind En­ergy As­so­ci­a­tion in a state­ment.

“The com­pet­i­tive na­ture of th­ese pro­cure­ment pro­cesses made it pos­si­ble to se­cure low-cost power for the Al­berta grid. That in turn pro­vides an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity for sig­nif­i­cant and sus­tain­able green­house gas re­duc­tions in the elec­tric­ity sec­tor while also pre­sent­ing Al­ber­tans, par­tic­u­larly Indige­nous and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, with new job and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties,” added Evan Wil­son, Re­gional Di­rec­tor – Prairies, Cana­dian Wind En­ergy As­soc.

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted to phas­ing out 6,300 MW of coal-fired elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion by 2030 and re­plac­ing two-thirds of it with re­new­able en­ergy. The per­cent­age of de­mand met by re­new­able sources is ex­pected to triple from nine per cent to­day to as much as 30 per cent by 2030.

Al­berta has taken strides in the de­vel­op­ment of its abun­dant wind en­ergy re­source. In De­cem­ber 2017, Al­berta achieved record-low auc­tion prices for wind en­ergy in the first phase of its Re­new­able Elec­tric­ity Pro­gram (REP). To­day’s an­nounce­ment re­veals that th­ese prices are here to stay. For more in­sights, read the CanWEA blog: Made-in-Al­berta Pro­cure­ment Process Har­nessed Com­pet­i­tive Mar­ket Forces Get­ting Best Deal for Con­sumers.

The Al­berta Wind En­ergy Sup­ply Chain Study pro­vides an anal­y­sis of the eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties driven by Al­berta’s Re­new­able En­ergy Pro­gram in­clud­ing; an es­ti­mated $3.6 bil­lion in lo­cal spend­ing on project de­vel­op­ment and con­struc­tion; an es­ti­mated $137 mil­lion in an­nual op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance spend­ing in Al­berta; 28,100-per­son years of em­ploy­ment; and $25.5 mil­lion in an­nual prop­erty tax pay­ments and $13.5 mil­lion in land lease pay­ments to Alta. landown­ers an­nu­ally.

Al­berta has 1,483 MW of wind en­ergy, the third largest in­stalled ca­pac­ity among Cana­dian prov­inces. Wind cur­rently sup­plies about eight per cent of the province’s elec­tric­ity de­mand, and Al­berta’s tar­get of 30 per cent re­new­able elec­tric­ity by 2030 has made it the lead­ing mar­ket for new wind en­ergy de­vel­op­ment in Canada. A 2016 tech­ni­cal study pre­pared by GE En­ergy Con­sult­ing with the in­put of grid op­er­a­tors in Canada found Al­berta’s elec­tric­ity sys­tem can ac­com­mo­date wind en­ergy pen­e­tra­tion equiv­a­lent to 50 per cent of elec­tric­ity de­mand without com­pro­mis­ing grid re­li­a­bil­ity. Read CanWEA’s blog: Wind En­ergy – A reli­able part of the en­ergy mix to learn more.

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