Alberta Breaks Wind Power Record, Then Does It Againin News Departments > New & Noteworthyby Joseph Bebon Tuesday July 29 2014print the content itemCanadian province Alberta broke its wind generation record not once, but twice, last week. Between 11 a.m. and noon on Thursday, July 24, Alberta produced an average of 1,188 MW of wind power. The province then surpassed that on Friday, July 25, peaking at an average of 1,255 MW between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Before last week, the previous record was set on May 29, with an average of 1,134 MW.Angela Anderson, a spokesperson for the Alberta Electric System Operator AESO, explains that the most recent records were due to a combination of very windy days and new wind farms. Specifically, she says the 300 MW Blackspring Ridge project, which went online in Vulcan County in May, “allowed the system to produce more wind than ever before.”According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association CanWEA, Alberta is home to over 1.4 GW of installed wind capacity and ranks third among the country’s provinces. Tim Weis, the association’s Alberta regional director, says the new wind production records are certainly noteworthy.“This is significant, not only because it was just this past April that Alberta broke the 1,000 MW plateau for the first time, but [also because] Alberta’s electricity system is showing that it can integrate large amounts of wind energy seamlessly,” states Weis.He also mentions that the AESO lifted a 900 MW threshold for installed wind capacity in Alberta in 2007, and now wind production has peaked at over 30% more than that original limit.Furthermore, it appears wind power is poised for growth in Alberta. “There is a lot of interest in wind development in the province, and that’s expected to continue over the coming years,” comments Anderson. She says the AESO currently has 15 active wind projects totaling about 2.1 GW in the grid operator’s connection queue.Overall, the AESO anticipates wind capacity to nearly double over the next 20 years from approximately 1.4 GW to 2.7 GW. “In fact, by 2034, we are forecasting Alberta will have more wind power than coal-fired generation on the system.”Nonetheless, Weis says most new power generation in the province will likely come from natural gas, not wind. “Alberta is facing two issues simultaneously,” he explains. “First of all, federal regulations require that coal units retire when they reach their 50th birthday. Alberta’s market is over 60 percent coal, and the first units will start to hit their 50th birthday this decade.“At the same time, Alberta’s system operator is forecasting significant growth in electricity demand over the next two decades, largely as a result of the growing oil sands industry. Several independent forecasts suggest that the vast majority of new electricity supply will come from natural gas to fill this gap.”Weis points out that the price of wind power isn’t the reason, though, as the AESO estimates wind energy within 7% of gas costs. The truth is, natural gas is simply easier to build in Alberta’s electricity market because “it can more easily bid into the market and respond to changes in future costs.”But there’s a problem: Weis says forecasts suggest a big switch to natural gas will eventually undo the environmental benefits gained from closing down coal plants, with greenhouse-gas emissions starting to increase again in just over a decade.Weis argues that although the AESO has proven it can handle more and more renewable energy on its grid, the province still needs “a new policy framework that recognizes the benefits of renewables so that we can continue to see wind grow in Alberta.”
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A NorthWestern Energy executive says the utility would have to walk away from a $900 million deal to buy 11 hydroelectric dams in Montana if forced to make changes recommended by the state Consumer Counsel.
NorthWestern vice president John Hines said Thursday the company would go to the open market to get more power if the deal with PPL Montana falls through,which could drive up rates.
The Montana Consumer Counsel is a state agency that represents consumers in utility hearings. It says the deal would increase electricity bills more than twice as much as South Dakota-based NorthWestern claims.
The Public Service Commission must approve the dam sale. Commissioners on Thursday in Billings held one of a series of listening sessions on the proposal.
A public hearing is planned in July.
I just signed a letter calling on U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Congress to renew the vital tax credit for wind and other sources of renewable energy. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) helps wind energy compete with highly subsidized fossil fuel industries, attracts investors for new wind projects, fosters innovation and employs tens of thousands of Americans in the clean energy economy.
Because of wind energy’s growing success, dirty energy billionaires, like the Koch brothers, campaigned to kill the renewable energy credit program. Congress is at a crossroads.
Will they support policies and industries that increase carbon pollution, fueling climate-related disasters? Or will they take action to promote safe, clean energy that will allow us to stabilize the climate?
As incoming Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Wyden will play a major role in deciding which direction Congress goes.
Please join me in telling Senator Wyden to renew the renewable energy tax credit now: http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/wind-credit_Wyden/?referring_akid=.227975.zAnFDm&source=taf
By signing the letter, you will send a message the future of our kids and and the stability of our climate are priorities that deserve urgent attention. Thank you for taking action!
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION via Climate Parents | Senator Wyden: Restore support for wind power!.
Development has started on a new wind farm that will soon rise above the wheat fields of Teton County, Montana.
When completed, the $19 million Fairfield Wind project will include six commercial scale turbines standing 398-feet tall, with a combined total of 10 mega watts of generating capacity.
“It has broken ground, and we expect to complete commissioning by June of 2014,” said John Pimental, ofFoundation Windpower, a wind power engineering and development company out of San Francisco.
Foundation Windpower and WINData, a wind power consulting and project management firm located in Great Falls jointly own the Fairfield Wind project.
Last week representatives of a California based firm, Foundation Windpower, met with Teton County commissioners regarding a proposed wind farm north of Fairfield.
According to Martin Wilde, a former Choteau resident who operates Windata, Inc., a firm that assists with site selection, the project has been in the works for several years, in part because investors have “signed up and then disappeared, which was very disappointing.”
Matt Wilson and John Pimental, representing Foundation Windpower, said they are committed to the project which will consist of 5 turbines reaching nearly 400 feet in height. The turbines will be installed to the north and south of the Bole substation, north of Fairfield in Township 23N, Range 3 West and Sections 35 and 26. Marvin Klinker and Reece Brown were on hand as landowners.
If all goes according to plan, the turbines could be up as early as the end of the year.
Foundation was seeking a letter to provide to their bankers. The commissioners asked the developers to use a letter from the county commission issued in 2010.
According to Wilson and Pimental, a federal law known as The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) dating to 1978 would require Northwestern Energy to purchase the electricity. Even though it is a Federal law, the act’s implementation is left up to the individual states.
The commissioners have put the project on the agenda for the next scheduled meeting.