On December 18th, 2018 five new wind power projects were awarded contracts to supply electricity to Albertans for a record setting low price of $39/MWh. That is less than half the price of wind contracts awarded nine years ago when BC Hydro last contracted with large wind projects in BC.
“The cost of wind turbines has dropped over 70% in the last ten years,” said Jae Mather, Executive Director of Clean Energy BC. Prices for wind power contracts awarded in other power contract competitions in Saskatchewan and Alberta over the last 12 months were around $39 MWh and $45/MWh, respectively.
“This program is an important entry point into Alberta’s renewable energy sector, providing much-needed revenue streams and employment opportunities for First Nations while generating economic and environmental benefits for the province as a whole … we believe the knowledge gained will lead to even greater success for First Nations in the future.”
— Guy Lonechild, CEO, First Nations Power Authority
The five new Albertan projects will supply a total of 760 MW – enough to power nearly 300,000 homes. The companies behind the projects will invest $1.2 billion and create about 1,000 jobs. Three of the wind projects are private-sector partnerships with First Nations, which include a minimum 25% Indigenous equity component.
The contracts resulted from the latest competition held under the Alberta government’s Renewable Electricity Program. The power price is set and capped for the entire 30 years of each contract. If the project experiences and cost over-runs they are absorbed by the companies’ shareholders and are not passed through to electricity customers.
“We are extremely pleased to be investing in Alberta with our partner, the Sawridge First Nation. The development, construction, and operations of the Buffalo Atlee Wind Farm will provide significant environmental benefits, create jobs, drive local economic activity, and deliver excellent value to Alberta ratepayers. We look forward to completing this exciting project in Alberta, which has become a destination of choice for renewable energy investment.”
— David Eva, Chief Executive Officer, Capstone Infrastructure Corporation
The last time BC Hydro contracted for power from large wind projects was in 2009. Since then there has been a dramatic drop in the cost of producing wind power.
Low wind power prices are good news for the CleanBC program announced on December 5th by the BC government. CleanBC aims to reduce emissions by substituting clean electricity for fossil fuels throughout industry, buildings and transportation. “CEBC estimates over 30,000 GWh of new renewable electricity will be required to meet CleanBC’s emission-reduction targets,” says Mather who further adds “These recent low wind prices in next door Alberta are good news for BC ratepayers.”
“EDF Renewables is very pleased to be investing in Alberta, which, thank you to this government’s commitment, has made the province one of North America’s most competitive and successful markets for renewable energy. We’re proud to be partnering with the Kainai First Nation (Blood Tribe) on the Cypress Wind Project. It will create hundreds of well-paying jobs, invest millions into Cypress County and Alberta’s economy, while generating affordable renewable electricity for Albertans.”
— Cory Basil, VP Development, EDF Renewables
More info on the Alberta Wind Awards can be found here.