Monday, 27 February 2017

Pattern's Meikle likely to be last B.C. wind farm built for years, by Karl-Erik Stromsta, Recharge News, Feb 27, 2017

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.

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