Energy was in the air and community spirit was high last Wednesday afternoon as hundreds of people welcomed the Halkirk wind project.
At the same time, residents signed a blade last Wednesday for one of the 83 turbines in Alberta’s largest wind farm.
Capital Power Corporation and a crowd estimated at more than 1,200 packed the Halkirk rodeo grounds on a warm day to leave their mark on the historic project.
“We believe the County of Paintearth is the energy capital of east-central Alberta and the county is blessed to have strong wind, coal and oil and gas resources,” said Walter Weber, deputy reeve for the County of Paintearth.
Weber said the project is an asset to both the County of Paintearth and the Village of Halkirk, with environmentally friendly green energy and employment to help sustain the future of the region.
Although he wasn’t present for the formal speeches, Halkirk Mayor Mayor Dale Kent lauded the new business in town as Capital Power bases it facilities headquarters in Halkirk.
“It will bring a little more tax base to the community,” Kent said.
Expected to be fully operational this winter, the Halkirk wind farm has projected a staff of 16 to 18 permanent employees in operations, maintenance and administration.
Provincial government officials joined the party last week.
“When we talk about Alberta becoming an energy leader, that means all types of energies,” said Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk.
“This is part of a larger Alberta story, and it’s a great day for the county.”
Capital Power echoed words of welcome.
“You are all part of building Alberta’s largest wind farm, which will generate clean, green power in our province for many years to come,” said Brian Vaasjo, president and chief executive officer of Capital Power Corporation.
“At Capital Power, we are dedicated to being an active member of the communities where we have facilities — we recognize the community is important to the long-term success of this wind farm.”
Work continues on the 150-megawatt project, with 40 turbines already erected between Halkirk and Castor on both sides of Highway 12. Crews strive to erect one or two turbines a day, with night shifts included.
When completed, the Halkirk wind project hopes to generate clean renewable energy for Alberta, and enough electricity to meet the average annual power need of 50,000 Alberta homes.
Vaasjo said the project was viable only with energy credits from the U.S.
Energy produced as part of the Halkirk project will be sold into the Alberta spot market, as Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are being sold to Pacific Gas and Pacific Electric under a 20-year fixed-price agreement.