TransAlta shuts Cowley Ridge Wind Farm in Alberta; may repower it

EDF EN Canada's Riviere-du-Moulin wind project

The Alberta Utilities Commission in a May 12 order approved a discontinuance of operations at the already-shut Cowley Ridge Wind Farm.

Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. is the owner and operator of the Cowley Ridge Wind Farm, located in the Pincher Creek area. Canadian Hydro is a unit of TransAlta Corp.

TransAlta, on behalf of Canadian Hydro, on March 17 filed a notice of discontinuance with the Alberta Utilities Commission for the Cowley Ridge Wind Farm. Said the notice: "On February 26, 2016, TransAlta decided to decommission the Cowley Ridge wind farm and ceased operations at the Cowley Ridge wind farm. TransAlta is reviewing the possibility of repowering the site with new and more efficient technology."

In 2001, the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board granted Canadian Hydro an approval to alter and operate the Cowley Ridge 322S Substation and an order to connect the Cowley Ridge Wind Farm to the electric system of TransAlta Utilities Corp., which now belongs to AltaLink Management Ltd. as part of the Alberta Interconnected Electric System.

Considering TransAlta would discontinue its operations at the Cowley Ridge Wind Farm, the commission issued information requests to TransAlta on April 7 asking whether there would be equipment within the substation that TransAlta planned to decommission. In its responses, TransAlta stated that Permit and License U2001-124 contained a discrepancy regarding the transformers installed at the substation.

TransAlta noted that the substation had two 69/34.5-kV transformers and one 69/25-kV transformer. It explained that two 69/34.5-kV transformers were included in Canadian Hydro’s application for the five-turbine expansion of the Cowley Ridge Wind Farm and the subsequent application for the Cowley North Wind Farm. TransAlta requested that Permit and License U2001-124 be updated to reflect the correct transformer ratings. TransAlta stated that the 69/25-kV transformer and its associated 69-kV circuit switcher would continue to serve the Cowley North Wind Farm.

TransAlta also stated it was planning to keep the two 69/34.5-kV transformers and their respective 69-kV circuit switchers energized to support decommissioning activities and for a potential re-powering of the Cowley Ridge site.

Said the TransAlta website about this 16-MW facility: "Cowley Ridge was the first commercial wind facility in Canada. The original wind facility was completed in two phases. Phase 1 was commissioned in 1993 and Phase 2 in August of 1994. In October 2000, five additional turbines were added. The turbines are mounted on 24.5 metre lattice towers and operate in wind speeds of up to 97 km per hour. TransAlta owns and operates the Cowley Ridge facility through its wholly owned subsidiary Canadian Hydro Developers."

Cowley North is a nearby wind farm with 20 MW of capacity that went on-line in 2001.

Also, the Alberta Utilities Commission on May 10 approved a change in control for the 71-MW Soderglen Wind Power Plant and its attendant substation. TransAlta Corp., on behalf of subsidiary Canadian Hydro Developers (CHD), applied April 12 with the commission for a change of ownership with respect to the Soderglen Wind Power Plant and Soderglen 243S Substation in the Fort Macleod area.

TransAlta submitted that Nexen Inc. has a 50 percent interest in the Soderglen power plant and substation, with the other 50 percent owned by GW Power Corp. (GWP). GWP has amalgamated with CHD as of Jan. 1, 2016, and GWP no longer exists as a separate entity. TransAlta stated that CHD now owns a 50 percent interest in the Soderglen power plant and substation, Nexen Inc. continues to hold the other 50 percent interest and TransAlta continues to operate the Soderglen power plant and substation.

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