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Electricity set to flow from Saskatchewan's newest windfarm

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by Allen Warren

The Saskatchewan provincial power utility is preparing to add 26.4 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to the grid through the Red Lily Wind Project Phase 1, which comes online at the end of February 2010 and will generate up to 90,000 gigawatts of wind power every year.

Regina

The Saskatchewan provincial power utility is preparing to add 26.4 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to the grid through the Red Lily Wind Project Phase 1, which comes online at the end of February 2010 and will generate up to 90,000 gigawatts of wind power every year.

“We are two weeks away from connecting, or what we call in the industry, ‘backfeeding’, with the provincial power utility, SaskPower,” said Homer Lensink, project manager and director of energy projects with principal developer, Algonquin Power Company (APCo) .

“We’re just waiting for testing to be finished on the SaskPower side. On our side, we’re actually a little bit ahead of schedule. SaskPower is working out of their substation just west of Moosomin on Highway No. 1, and will be finished just in time. We’re scheduled to be in full commercial generation by the end of February.”

The Canadian division of the Danish Vestas company was the general contractor.

At its August peak, during the rigging of the turbines, the project employed up to 60 tradespeople, mostly local, including electricians, millwrights, ironworkers, riggers, and carpenters.

“Vestas has the responsibility of building the roads and foundations, as well as for the erection of the turbines,” he said. “We had the responsibility of working out the surface lease agreements with the landowners.”

“(It’s) not a huge energy producer,” he explained.

“Usually the size of a facility is rated in its ‘instantaneous power capacity’; at 26.4 MW, this is a medium-sized project.”

By comparison, SaskPower’s smallest coal fired plant produces 80 MW.

The wind power delivery works differently in Saskatchewan.

“We sell the power to SaskPower at the base of each turbine, which is pretty unique for the wind industry in Canada,” Lensink said.

“Usually it’s all collected together and delivered to the utility at one common point, but in Saskatchewan, the regulations are different.”

He noted that provincial regulation is under review by SaskPower.

As far as Saskatchewan wind farms go, the Centennial Wind Power Facility in the province’s southwest is Saskatchewan’s largest, and the second largest in Canada.

With 83 turbines, its 150 MW produce enough electricity at peak operating times to power 69,000 homes.

The Red Lily development is owned by Concord Pacific Group, which invested about $19 million in the $69 million project.

About $17.5 million of the funding came from APCo, which will provide services to and will receive fees for the development, construction, operation and supervision of the project.

Each of the 16 Vestas V82 wind turbine generators produce 1.65 instantaneous MW of energy. The turbines cover the fields of nine different landowners, who APCo pays an annual fee for the use of their land.

“The only land we actually take up is for a small access road and tower base,” he said.

“The relationships have all been very cordial, which has helped keep us on schedule.”

As project manager, Lensink makes it out to the site once a month, he said, but otherwise leaves it up to APCo’s staff on the ground, as well as Vestas employees to handle daily monitoring of the development.

Even though the project is slated to start commercially in a month, the official grand opening will be held in May.

“Well, you know what Saskatchewan’s like in February,” he said. “I think it’s best we leave it till spring.”

The land rights for the second phase of the Red Lily Wind Project have been secured. The project could provide another 106 MW of wind generating capacity.

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