First Wind Power Turbine Installed By Enel In Central Alberta
Updated: Sep 15
Enel Green Power announced the completion of their first turbine at their Grizzly Bear Creek wind project on September 7, south of Mannville. One of 34 turbines on the project, it is the first of theirs in central Alberta, with the rest being near Pincher Creek.
In the coming weeks, they expect to complete three turbines per week if weather conditions remain ideal. The overall project is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.
Having worked all across the United States and Italy, this is Enel’s 4th Alberta project, having begun in 2012 with two additional projects in 2020. This site is more complex because they have had to work around 504 wetlands.
“Projects have moved because the technology has become better at harnessing lower wind speeds. Here in central Alberta, the wind is very consistent, meaning good quality wind,” said Don Morgan, senior development manager.
The turbines can operate with wind blowing at 3m-25m per second.
Site manager, Justin Williams, said that a lot of times there will just be a slight breeze on the ground, but higher up in the air, the wind speed increases. As time has gone on, the towers have become taller and the blades longer.
Three of the turbines will be 150m tall, while 31 of them will be 195m tall (taller than the Calgary Tower). Each turbine has a foundation of cement and rebar, a tower, a nacelle that houses the generator and turning mechanisms, along with a hub on the front and three blades. Moving into optimal position they yaw (rotate towards the wind), and the blades also rotate. The generator creates electricity and an electrical system runs underground where a substation collects it and connects to Alberta Interconnected Electric System.
With approximately 250 people on their active working site, safety is a big focus not only for their crew, but for the environment and the community. Morgan said environmental factors include nests, setbacks from water, and migration surveys done spring, summer, and fall for Alberta Environment.
“Meteorological towers measured the wind ahead of time, and where stakeholders had concerns, we’ve re-positioned turbines so that it works for everybody. With 30 plus landowners I think the reception is largely positive. Some of the initial concerns were for sound, shadow flicker, and viewscape. Like with all things change can be hard, but our footprint is small once up and running. We anticipate seven full-time positions, and the project is intended to last 30 years,” said Morgan.
The Grizzly Bear Creek Wind Project is capable of creating 152 megawatts of electricity, however, they estimate an output of 528 GWh per year, which would reduce CO2 emissions by 343,000 tons annually. Their expected output will be equivalent to powering 73,000 Alberta homes each year.
A typical project of this size costs $250-$300 million and they said they’ve used local contractors where they could. Their 30 year investment will provide $80 million to the local counties for property taxes alone. To make a profit over the term, Morgan said one risk would be any big changes to the pool price for power (which is set every hour).
“We are very comfortable making investments here. I think wind helps contribute to the renewable energy portfolio; it’s about a balance of energy resources,” said Morgan.
Enel offers wind power, solar power, and battery storage projects; and they are currently developing future projects for all three types in Alberta.
They said, it’s a pretty momentous time as they completed their first wind turbine at Grizzly Bear Creek because the public will now be able to see the progression of their work across the site. After not knowing if the project would ever materialize for many years, they said the public will be happy to see that Enel will now be a part of the community for a long time.
Overall, they are thankful to have good landowners here that welcomed them into the community. Their staff have already been involved in the community through a food bank drive and the fair in Mannville, and plan to continue their involvement in a variety of ways whether that be contributing funds or spending time participating in programs.
Before regular operation begins, they will complete reclamation for the farmer’s fields. For more information you can visit enelgreenpower.com/grizzlybearcreek.