June 13, 2019
Construction on Capital Power’s Whitla 201 megawatt (MW) wind facility is peaking. “So far, we have spent $50 million in the Southeast Alberta,” says Jerry Bellikka, director of government relations at Capital Power. “This includes everything from water, to fencing, groceries and propane.”
Currently, about 175 workers are digging turbine foundations, installing rebar and hauling and pouring 50 loads of concrete per foundation at the construction site, which is 45 kilometres southwest of Medicine Hat, on more than 33,000 acres of land in the County of Forty Mile.
Construction on the 201 MW wind facility is expected to peak this summer with 300 workers on site, including carpenters, heavy equipment operators, and turbine installation technicians. Workers are in Bow Island and Foremost for periods of time ranging from two weeks to one year.
Towers are arriving by rail, making the journey along the Canadian Pacific Railway main line to the 40 Mile Rail short line, which runs from Bow Island to Foremost, where it is unloaded and taken to the site by multi-axle trucks.
Phase one of Capital Power’s Whitla facility was selected in 2017 for the first round of the Government of Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program (REP), an initiative that aims to source 30% of Alberta’s power from wind, solar and hydro by 2030. This $325 million investment by Capital Power is expected to generate up to 10 full-time operational jobs. When both phases are complete, the wind facility will be 298 megawatts.
Construction on the Whitla wind facility began in September 2018 with building access roads and an office northeast of Foremost.
Borea Construction, a Canadian renewable energy contractor, is carrying out the construction phase of the facility. The company has built more than 4,000 megawatts of wind and solar energy projects across Canada, including the Brooks Solar Farm and the Meikle Wind Project near Tumbler Ridge, B.C. Borea looked to Medicine Hat’s labour market for qualified workers and held two job fairs in March 2019.
As Southeast Alberta’s largest service centre, Medicine Hat is capable of serving the renewable energy industry in everything from accommodation to material supply and construction services. In the next three years, 500 megawatts in wind projects are expected to come online in the region.
EDF Renewables Canada and Kainai First Nation’s Cypress Wind Project will go ahead with their projects this year, bringing an additional 201.6 megawatts of renewable energy to the grid by 2021. Construction is expected to start in 2020, following the approval of all required provincial and municipal permits.
The Whitla Wind Project is expected to be commercially operational in the fourth quarter of 2019.