Pending regulatory approval and a final decision from Nexen to proceed, construction starts in May, with commissioning expected before the end of 2005. The partners have not selected a turbine model, although GW Power's Guido Bachmann says it will be a minimum of 1.5 MW in size.
Soderglen, which takes its name from the Fort Macleod-area cattle ranch on which it will be built, will be one of the largest wind energy projects in southern Alberta. It has potential for further expansion, says Nexen. The oil company will hold a 50% interest in the project. Soderglen is a "financially attractive project with many environmental benefits," says CEO Charlie Fischer.
"This supports our marketing group's initiative to generate and sell power to industrial, commercial and public sector customers in Alberta and should provide carbon offsets that will support our oil sands investments." The company's Long Lake Project, a joint venture oil sands development under construction, is expected to produce 60,000 barrels a day starting in 2006.
Nexen began marketing electricity to commercial and industrial customers in Alberta after the province deregulated its power market in 2001, the same year it started generating power from a 97 MW natural gas cogeneration facility owned in a 50% partnership with EnCana. This year it reached a multi-year deal with a run-of-river hydro and wind power producer to buy 40,000 MWh of renewable energy certificates a year, which are in turn offered as a 20% green component in a long term power contract with a major Alberta electricity customer.
"It's a really exciting project, and Nexen is a great partner," says GW Power's Guido Bachmann. "This is another indication of the validity of the Alberta marketplace as it stands today."
Nexen joins a growing list of Canadian oil companies diversifying into wind, including Calgary's Suncor Energy, which owns two wind farms totalling 41 MW and has Enbridge, a Calgary oil and gas transmission company, as a partner in both. Also from Calgary, TransCanada Corporation, a gas transmission and power generation company, has a 50% stake in Cartier Wind Energy, which won 740 MW of contracts in Hydro-Quebec's recent call for wind energy. And Talisman Energy, yet another Calgary oil company, is looking at building a deepwater wind farm of up to 1000 MW next to its Beatrice oilfield off the northeast coast of Scotland.