By Collin Gallant
Alberta Newspaper Group
One of Canada’s largest oil companies will build a wind farm near Bow Island over the next two years at a cost of $300 million, Suncor announced on Monday as it released its 2020 capital spending guidance to investors.
The Forty Mile Wind Power project, also known as the Forty Mile Granlea wind farm, would be similar in size to the Whitla Wind Farm that was built this year about 60 kilometres southwest of Medicine Hat.
That project, set to be completed this month by Edmonton-based Capital Power, saw more than 300 construction workers on site this summer, while agreements with land owners and tax revenue is counted in the millions of dollars each year.
Without releasing many specifics, Suncor states that the renewable energy production is part of greater move by the oilsands giant to reduce emissions by about one-third by 2030.
“This unique investment approach in renewable energy is expected to generate double-digit, sustainable economic returns through power generation and retaining the generated carbon credits for utilization in the core business,” the release states.
Earlier this fall Suncor announced it would spend a total of $2 billion on CO2 reduction program, including moves to convert boilers to burn natural gas and also co-generate electricity at its Fort McMurray facilities.
Suncor already operates two wind facilities in southern Alberta, at Magrath and Taber, as well as Gull Lake, Sask, and another in Ontario. The combined peak output at those facilities in 111 megawatts.
The Forty Mile facility would have about 50 turbines and a capacity of 200 megawatts in peak conditions, about equal to the entire demand of the City of Medicine Hat.
The company plans to spend 25 per cent of the project budget, about $75 million, in 2019, then the remainder by 2021 as the project is built.
The project appears to be the first phase of the total plan to build a 400-megawatt, 96 turbine facility that was approved by Alberta Utility Commission last May.
The entire site sits on 50,000 acres of privately held land located 16 kilometres south of Bow Island and north of the Forty Mile Coulee. A map with project approval shows turbine locations dotted over two townships along Secondary Highway No. 885 between Etzikom and Whitla.
It is the third major facility in the general vicinity to receive the go-ahead for construction
Along with the Capital Power project, this fall, Berkshire Hathaway Energy Canada announced it would proceed with construction of the Rattle Snake Wind Project, located around the hamlet of Whitla.
Another BHEC project, also known as Forty Mile Wind, is in the area, but not yet approved.