Pattern Development has completed its 184.6MW Meikle wind farm in British Columbia, in what is likely to be the last big wind project to come online in the western Canadian province for many years.
Meikle is the largest wind farm ever built in British Columbia, single-handedly boosting the
province’s installed wind capacity by 37%, to nearly 674MW. But with electricity demand stagnant
in British Columbia even as the 1.1GW Site C hydroelectric project advances, the renewables
industry is not counting on much in the way of new opportunities there for the foreseeable future.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association reportedly pulled its regional director out of British
Columbia last year, with the intention of focusing on the more obvious near-term opportunities
blossoming in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The government in B.C. has said the controversial Site C will be the last major hydro project built in
the province and future demand will be met by wind and solar. But barring a major new source of
electricity demand, contracts for new wind farms are unlikely to be awarded any time soon, and
perhaps not for a decade or more.
New wind opportunities are also on the decline in Ontario and Quebec, historically the two largest
provincial wind markets.
Meikle, completed 33km north of Tumbler Ridge, near British Columbia’s border with Alberta, was
built using two types of General Electric turbines, and designed to work with the site’s unique
ridgelines in an area that has seen heavy forestry activity. The wind farm sells its power to state-owned
utility BC Hydro.
Pattern acquired the project from local developer Finavera in 2013.
Conscious of the economic challenges in the remote area where Meikle was built, San Franciscobased
Pattern Development – parent of the US-based renewables yieldco Pattern Energy – spent
more than 30% of the value of its construction-related contracts with First Nations-affiliated
contractors and other regional firms.
Sixteen O&M personnel will stay on to maintain the C$393m ($301m) project.
“Located in a mountainous region, this project was unique for its construction, design and weather
challenges, as well as for our discovery of rare dinosaur tracks during construction, which we
donated to the Tumbler Ridge Museum,” says Mike Garland, chief executive of both Pattern
Development and Pattern Energy.
Pattern Energy, which is listed in both New York and Toronto, has the right of first offer on Meikle,
and is expected to acquire the project at some point.
Roughly one-fifth of Pattern Energy’s 2.6GW of installed capacity is spread across its investments in
five wind farms in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.