Growing market demand for wind -- Retailer boosts wind purchases

Canadian Hydro Developers of Calgary is to supply Enmax Energy with 35,000 MWh of wind power a year for the next five years. The power will come from Canadian Hydro's new 19.5 MW Cowley Ridge North and 6.5 MW Sinnott projects, now building in southern Alberta. Ten Nordex 1.3 MW turbines are up and operating, with the remaining ten expected to come on-line by the end of this month.

The Enmax contract represents about half the output of the plants, which were originally conceived as merchant facilities (Windpower Monthly, September 2001). The financial details of the transaction are confidential, but Enmax's Theresa Howland says the wind power is earmarked for a single customer, who she declines to name.

The Canadian Hydro deal brings Enmax's total annual wind power purchases to more than 100,000 MWh. The electricity retailer launched its green power program, Greenmax, in 1998, offering wind to residential consumers. But since Alberta opened its electricity market to retail competition in January, the company has been using a significant portion of its wind resources to help it win large contracts with commercial consumers.

Overall, says Howland, 90% of Enmax's wind supply is sold and less than 5% goes to the 3000 Calgary homeowners signed up with Greenmax. The remainder goes to ten large volume customers through the province.

One of the largest is the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), which aggregated more than 500 MW of local government demand in 192 communities. In its search for an electricity provider, says Howland, the AUMA expressed an interest in wind energy. "We were one of the only companies that came back with it included in its supply. That helped us," she says. Enmax's five-year contract with the AUMA provides 2% wind power, about 8000 MWh annually.

The wind power provision has helped Enmax sign other deals, including a five year contract with the City of Red Deer, again for 2% wind, about 600 MWh a year. The city authority's Al Roth says Red Deer was not looking for green power when it began negotiations with retailers in the province, but is happy now to have it. "Our city council is very supportive of conservation and trying to reduce pollution," says Roth, who hopes the purchase will generate interest in renewables among Red Deer residents. "What we see from doing this is to play some kind of leadership role."

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