Ontario wind turbine project continues to expand

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Ontario Power Authority has agreed to purchase 100 megawatts of new generation from the Belle River Wind project in southern Ontario, developers Samsung C&T Corp. and Pattern Energy Group LP announced yesterday.The project, to be built in the town of Lakeshore about 40 miles east of Detroit, will be the fifth wind power project undertaken by Samsung and Pattern Energy in Ontario, where the companies have committed to spend $5 billion on renewable energy investments under a formal agreement with Ontario’s government.When fully operational, the five Samsung/Pattern wind energy projects should produce 970 MW of electricity, enough to power up to 350,000 homes in Canada’s most populated province, officials said.They will also help Ontario meet some of the most ambitious renewable energy goals in North America under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2009. The law removed regulatory hurdles for renewable energy developers and established generous feed-in tariff rates for new wind energy of 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.The feed-in tariff program has since been revised to exclude large wind and solar projects, but Ontario has continued to draw wind energy investment under its long-term energy plan adopted last year. As of July, the province had 2,855 MW of installed wind energy capacity, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, up from 2,470 MW at the end of last year.

In addition to significant expansions of renewables, Ontario has also completed a phaseout of all of its coal-fired generation and will convert two large coal-fired power stations to burn woody biomass. As recently as a decade ago, 25 percent of Ontario’s electricity came from five coal-fired plants.

One of those former coal plants, the Atikokan Generating Station in western Ontario, began producing its first biomass power last month, according to its owner, Ontario Power Generation Inc., after a $170 million retooling. A second coal plant, the Thunder Bay Generating Station on Lake Superior, burned its last coal in April and is undergoing a similar fuel conversion.

Emission cuts will equal removing 60,000 cars

The 20-year power purchase agreement between the Ontario Power Authority and the Belle River Wind project follows the completion earlier this year of Ontario’s largest wind farm, the 270 MW South Kent Wind project near Chatham-Kent (ClimateWire, April 15). That project was also delivered under the “Green Renewable Energy Investment” agreement between the government of Ontario and Samsung C&T, a division of the Korean conglomerate Samsung Group.

Samsung C&T and Pattern Energy Group, or Pattern Development, will jointly build, own and operate the 60- to 75-turbine wind farm, which is expected to begin operations in late 2017, according to a project website.

“Ontario’s renewable program is unique in North America and has created thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs as well as millions of dollars in annual revenues to the landowners and communities where the projects and the manufacturing facilities are located,” Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development, a division of Pattern Energy Group Inc. of San Francisco, said in a statement.

Compared with coal-fired generation, the Belle River Wind project should offset more than 300,000 tons of CO2 each year — the equivalent of taking more than 60,000 cars off the road, according to emission rates from the Ontario Ministry of Environment.

The three additional Ontario wind farms being developed by Samsung and Pattern are the 150 MW Grand Renewable Energy Park in Haldimand County on Lake Erie; the 180 MW Armow Wind project in the town of Kincardine on Lake Huron.