Power lines upgrade in Central Alberta will cost $1.7B, says electric operator

Changes in how and where electricity is generated will require an investment of about $1.7 billion in upgrading power lines throughout Central Alberta over the next 10 years, says the Alberta Electric System Operator.

Changes in how and where electricity is generated will require an investment of about $1.7 billion in upgrading power lines throughout Central Alberta over the next 10 years, says the Alberta Electric System Operator.

The agreements for a pair of coal-fired generators on the Battle River, capable of generating a total of 300 megawatts per hour, are about to expire while 400 megawatts of new capacity is coming onstream in the next two to three years from a variety of wind farms in the east Central area of the province, said Shan Bhattacharya, vice-president of transmission for AESO.

New wind farms coming onstream in the near future include Capital Power’s 150-MW facility at Halkirk, Greengate Power’s 150-MW facility immediately south of the Halkirk project and a smaller project near Trochu, operated by Fortuna GP, a subsidiary of Florida Light and Power.

Transmission systems will have to be upgraded to connect those projects while additional transmission is needed to capture the capacity of the gas-fired co-generator at the Nova Chemicals plant at Joffre, said Bhattacharya. The Joffre site is capable of generating 400 MW, but about 50 MW of that capacity cannot be used because the lines there aren’t sufficient to handle it, he said.

About 60 per cent of the planned transmission lines, which will vary in capacity from 138 to 240 kilovolts, have already been approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission, said Bhattacharya.

Applications are being made for the balance, including a project at Red Deer, he said.

“Alberta will be boosting its generation capacity in a significant way to meet the growing demand,” said Bhattacharya.

Generators in Central Alberta and East Central Alberta will be capable of pushing out 2,130 to 2,630 MW by 2010, with wind projects alone totalling more than 1,000 MW of that capacity.

Details about AESO’s generation and transmission projects are offered on its public information website, poweringalberta.ca

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com