With two major wind projects virtually shovel ready, Starland County might be hopping with economic activity in the very near future.
Announcements from the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO) are expected this December for renewable energy projects. The competitive process to select projects has been underway for quite some time. This initial competition has the goal to add 400 Mw of power to Alberta’s grid.
“The Renewable Electricity Program is designed to meet the Alberta Government of Alberta’s Target of 30 per cent renewables by 2030,” said manager of public affairs for AESO, Tara de Weerd.
She explains this process is structured into a series of competitions, and this is the first round to target 400 megawatts of renewable generation. It has gone through a request for expressions of interest and then a request for qualifications to inform bidders of the requirements and to allow qualified bidders to provide a bid price. This wrapped up in September.
“At that stage, organizations would propose projects and they would have to demonstrate that technically they had the feasibility to put the project forward, they would be able to connect to existing transmission, they had the financial backing to make it go live, and that they could meet an in-service date of December 2019,” said de Weerd.
The next stage was the request for proposal stage. This is where the qualified bidder would submit their bid price, this cut off was in mid-October.
“Now this information, the projects, and the price has gone to the Minister of Energy, and actually the Minister of Energy will decide what the winners are. We are expecting that sometime in December of this year for the first round,” said de Weerd.
In Starland County, Suncor has been working on an 80-megawatt project in the Hand Hills. In November of last year, a spokesperson from Suncor told The Mail, it planned to pursue the Government of Alberta’s process to get the project rolling.
The Suncor project calls for 54 wind turbines as well as an underground collector system and substation.
BluEarth Renewables have also been diligently working on a project near Delia, which calls for 34 turbines that will have the capacity to generate 78 megawatts of renewable energy.
Matthew Kreke, assistant CAO of Starland County said the projects have cleared the County’s permitting process.
“They are waiting for the procurement prices to unfold and I think at the end of this month we should get a little more clarification on that,” said Kreke. “We do know all of the projects are supposed to be operational by the end of 2019 so they are going to have to make some decision here for sure.”
“Both have been ready to go for a significant amount of time. It will be interesting to see if we get one or both.”
de Weerd of AESO says the call out has been well received. While Round one calls for 400 megawatts, the end goal by 2030 is for about 5,000 megawatts.
“In the beginning with our request for expressions of interest… at that point there were about 80 expressions of interest, far exceeding our expectations and it was a mix of international, and Canadian companies, wind and solar, and the range of project sizes was really diverse,” she said.
“At the request for qualifications stage where we were trying to hit the 400 megawatts, there was 10 times that amount that would have qualified. We feel fairly confident there is a good pipeline of projects there.”