Families brave spot market prices -- First American Enercon

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Local entrepreneurs in southern Alberta, Canada, have entered the wind power market with the purchase of an Enercon 600 kW E40 turbine from Germany. The turbine, commissioned in late November, is located just west of the community of Lundbreck and harvests the winds spilling down the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Installed by Pincher Creek's Wind Power Incorporated (WPI), Enercon's Canadian agent, the turbine is owned and operated by Lundbreck Developments Joint Venture A, a partnership formed by two local couples. Such small scale involvement in the power business is not really "the North American way," admits Pat Dwyer, one of the partners. "It's got to be big and cumbersome and awkward and done with other people's money." Dwyer, a construction contractor, says he was ready to risk his own money because he believes wind is the generation technology of the future. "I'm looking for something I can do productively and perpetuate my income as I get older."

The annual output of the turbine, an estimated at 2080 MWh, is being sold into the Alberta spot market. But power prices in the province have been dropping, averaging just C$33.31/MWh in November compared to C$253.28/MWh a year earlier. "We're not that concerned about the low price," says Dwyer. "No one can produce that cheaply, so it can't go on forever. We think it will come to an average that pays the capital back."

The project is something of a milestone for the German wind turbine manufacturer, Enercon GmbH. Although WPI has announced plans for a 100 MW wind farm using the larger 1.8 MW E66 machine, the Lundbreck unit is the first Enercon turbine to be installed in Canada and the only one in North America. The company's variable speed turbine technology has been banned from the US in a dispute over a patent originally issued to long bankrupt Kenetech Windpower and later acquired by Enron Wind.

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