Ontario gets close to first gigawatt

Canadian Hydro Developers has inaugurated Canada's largest wind farm so far. The company's C$409 million, 199.5 MW Melancthon EcoPower Centre, located about 70 kilometres northwest of Ontario, was built in two phases. The facility's first 45 GE Energy 1.5 MW turbines came online in early 2006, while the remaining 132 MW was expected to achieve commercial operation last month. The official opening ceremony was on October 30.

Melancthon's first phase won a 20-year power purchase agreement from the Ontario Power Authority in a 2004 request for proposals. The company followed up in 2005 with a 20-year contract for the 132 MW second phase, also using GE units. The annual average generation from the full facility is expected to be 545 GWh.

Melancthon II is only one of a number of new wind projects coming online in Ontario that will help to nearly double the province's installed capacity within the span of one year. Ontario expects to have a little over 950 MW of wind in service by the end of this month, up from 491 MW at the start of 2008. "Our drive for renewable energy has pushed Ontario from lagging to leading the green energy charge," says Ontario's energy minister, George Smitherman.

For Calgary's Canadian Hydro, Melancthon II is part of a C$1.3 billion building program that will see the company add ten renewable energy projects in three provinces over the next four years, more than doubling its operating capacity. The projects include the C$450 million, 197.8 MW Wolfe Island Wind Project, also in Ontario, to consist of 86 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines; it is expected to be in commercial operation in March. Construction of that facility passed a milestone in October, says Keating, when Canadian Hydro lowered 700 tonnes of cable into Lake Ontario that will connect the wind farm to the power grid.

The company plans to start construction of its C$40 million, 18 MW Royal Road wind facility in Ontario, which has been awarded two fixed-price standard offer contracts, in 2009. It also has power purchase contracts for two wind projects in Quebec with a combined capacity of 116 MW. Both have a target in-service date of December 2012.