It’s a win-win-win scenario — or should that be wind-win-win?
Five planned wind energy projects in southern Alberta announced Monday stand to bring benefits on several fronts. First of all, the projects are expected to create 1,000 jobs, which will provide a welcome economic boost for a province where the oil sector has been hard hit by slumping oil prices.
The economic opportunities will spill into Indigenous communities in the south, including the Kainai Nation, who will work with EDF Renewables Canada Inc. — with connections in France — to build the 202-megawatt Cyprus wind power installation near Medicine Hat.
Chief Roy Fox, speaking on behalf of the Kainai band council, noted: “This is an important first step in economic reconciliation that helps our children and their children prosper alongside other Albertans for generations to come.”
Two other Indigenous bands will be involved in other projects, including the Paul First Nation, which will take part in a 113-megawatt wind farm near Stirling. The Sawridge First Nation will be part of a 48-megawatt development near Brooks.
The largest project will be the 207-megawatt Windrise wind farm to be constructed southwest of Fort Macleod. In all, once completed, the wind farms will generate an estimated 760 megawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly 300,000 homes.
The newly announced projects will be aided by a $1.2-billion investment from the private sector. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, the MLA for Lethbridge West, noted the developments were spurred by the province’s Renewable Electricity Program, which is looking to add 5,000 megawatts of power to the electricity system. That will lift Alberta’s green energy component to 30 per cent of the province’s power production by 2030.
The five new projects are slated for construction in 2020 and schedule to go online in 2021.
This latest green energy initiative is a welcome one for Alberta, both in terms of job production, economic boost and, once completed, additional green power for the province’s electrical grid. While the federal government’s announced $1.6 billion in aid to the struggling oilpatch will also help the province, Premier Rachel Notley pointed out what Alberta really needs is a fix for the pipeline bottleneck.
Until that happens, the wind energy projects unveiled this week will provide an immediate and tangible boost for the province’s economy.