TransAlta brings wind to New Brunswick

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New Brunswick has made it onto Canada's wind energy map with the completion on new year's eve of TransAlta Wind's 96 MW Kent Hills project. The C$170 million wind farm, made up of 32 Vestas 3 MW turbines, will supply government-owned New Brunswick Power with about 280,000 MWh a year under a 25 year power purchase contract. TransAlta won the contract in a request for proposals issued in October 2005. Kent Hills, located about 32 kilometres southwest of the city of Moncton, is the company's first wind power facility outside of its home province of Alberta and brings TransAlta's installed wind fleet to 248 MW. The project came in on time and on budget, despite a long list of challenges faced by construction crews, including mosquito and black fly infestations, two hurricanes and ice and snowstorms. TransAlta's Jason Edworthy says the site has potential for expansion by another 54 MW, but with New Brunswick Power currently the only customer for the electricity, when it is developed will likely depend on the utility's purchase plans. Future opportunity could also lie in the provincial government's ambition to develop 2500-4500 MW of wind in the province by 2025, a plan that will require exporting electricity over the border and into the US. There are three contracted wind projects totalling 213 MW scheduled to be completed in the province by the end of this year. Neighbouring maritime province Newfoundland & Labrador also got its first utility scale wind project in 2008, when Vestas 3 MW units at the 27 MW St Lawrence project completed commissioning in November. British Columbia is now the only Canadian province without a completed wind farm feeding its grid. By the end of last year, Canada's installed capacity had reached 2369 MW, 523 MW of which came online in 2008.

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