Alberta Auction Results In 600 MW Of Record-Low Wind Power Pricing

Three companies have been chosen in the opening round of Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program (REP), which will result in about C$1 billion of private-sector investment in wind generation in Alberta. Notably, the successful bids set a record for the lowest-ever renewable energy pricing in Canada, the Alberta government has announced.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is applauding the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and the government of Alberta for the successful implementation of the first phase of the program.

Specifically, the AESO will secure power from three new wind energy projects representing approximately 600 MW of capacity at an average price of C$37/MWh. The Alberta government notes that in comparison, a 2016 Ontario procurement had a weighted average price of C$85/MWh.

The following companies were successful bidders in round one of the REP:

  • Capital Power, which will build the 201 MW Whitla Wind project 60 kilometers southwest of Medicine Hat;
  • EDP Renewables Canada Ltd., which will build a 248 MW wind farm at their Sharp Hills project east of Hanna, roughly 50 kilometers north of Oyen; and
  • Enel Green Power North America Inc., which will build two projects – the 115 MW Riverview Wind Farm and the 31 MW Phase 2 of Castle Rock Ridge Wind Power Plant just outside of Pincher Creek.

According to CanWEA, the companies behind these projects have each signed a 20-year indexed renewable energy credit (IREC) agreement with the AESO, providing predictable revenues and 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, explains CanWEA.

“This Canadian award is a major milestone for our company, as it is the first regulated renewables tender we have ever won in the country,” says Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power. “We are thrilled to be investing once again in the Canadian energy economy and to continue our growth here in Alberta.”

The government says this first round attracted investment from both international and Alberta-based companies and is expected to create approximately 740 jobs. By 2030, the program is expected to attract at least C$10 billion of investment into the Alberta economy and create more than 7,000 jobs for Albertans.

“As an Alberta-based company, we’re proud to be selected amongst global competition to be one of the first projects under this program to drive Alberta’s transition to a clean energy future,” comments Brian Vaasjo, president and CEO of Capital Power.

Ryan Brown, vice president of EDP Renewables’ eastern region and Canada, adds, “We’re thrilled to be investing in Alberta and look forward to the Sharp Hills Wind Farm opening in the Hanna area, which has a strong track record in energy production. As a global company, we look forward to creating jobs and tax revenue for this region while generating low-cost, clean electricity for Albertans to enjoy.”

CanWEA notes that the competitive nature of this procurement process was critical to achieving a low-cost result. In total, 29 projects representing over 4 GW of renewable energy were qualified to participate in this initial process; this great interest shown by renewable energy producers means that Alberta is well-positioned to succeed in its goal of procuring 5 GW of new renewable energy by 2030, says CanWEA. Furthermore, the announcement represents the first step toward implementation of the Alberta Climate Leadership Plan, which calls for 30% renewable energy by 2030.

The Alberta government adds that support for the REP is made possible by the Climate Leadership Plan and is not funded by consumer electricity charges. Development of the next rounds of the program is under way, with more details expected in early 2018.

“CanWEA was pleased to see such a large response to this initial phase of the Renewable Electricity Program,” comments Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. “The results demonstrate that wind energy is cost-competitive with all other generation sources and provides excellent value for Albertas as the province moves to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions throughout the economy.”

According to CanWEA, Alberta has 1,479 MW of wind energy, the third-largest installed capacity among Canadian provinces. Wind currently supplies about 6% of the province’s electricity demand.

Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, minister of energy, says, “These prices are beyond expectations, highlighting the strong potential of renewable power in Alberta, the quality of the competitive process and the positive view that investors have of our province. This is a win for power generators, a win for the environment and a win for Albertans.”

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