Canada's first project to close

CANADA: Twenty three years after the Kenetech KVS-33 375kW turbines began operating, the first commercial wind farm in Canada has reached the end of its operating life.

From the archive: Cowley Ridge has been operating since 1993
From the archive: Cowley Ridge has been operating since 1993

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The Cowley Ridge project was installed along a ridge in the Rocky Mountain foothills of south-western Alberta in 1993.

Calgary-based TransAlta, which has owned the project since 2009, said it would retire the facility in two phases beginning this spring.

Decommissioning of the turbines will take place from April to June, followed by site reclamation.

The original wind farm was made up of 52 turbines built at a cost of C$35 million (US$26 million), according to one of the project's developers, Jason Edworthy.

It had a long-term contract under Alberta's Small Power Research and Development Act to sell its output at a rate that started at C$0.052/kWh and rose to C$0.06/kWh. Another five turbines were added in October 2000.

Cowley Ridge's power purchase agreement expired in 2014 and, since then, the project has operated as a merchant facility in the province's competitive power market. It currently has a power output of 16MW.

TransAlta said it is "very interested" in repowering the site, but will not make any investment decisions until the provincial government's long-term plans for adding renewable energy to Alberta's grid are clearer.

The Alberta government announced in November that it would phase out the province's 6.3GW coal fleet by 2030, replacing two thirds of the electricity with renewable energy and one third with gas.

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) launched consultations earlier this month on development of a competitive process to bring new wind energy online, and expects to issue an initial request for proposals in late 2016.

TransAlta has not disclosed the expected cost of decommissioning Cowley Ridge. It expects to recycle more than a 454 tonnes of metal from the site.

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