April 2, 2007

Wind farm cost comes in under budget as PEI reaps environmental, economic benefits

Construction of Prince Edward Island's Eastern Kings wind farm has come in significantly under budget, its final cost of $47 million well under the initial projected cost of approximately $55 million, Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Jamie Ballem reported recently. This, he said, works out to a cost of $1,567 per kilowatt-significantly lower than similar projects. Wind farms in central Canada and the eastern United States have cost from $1,800 to more than $2,000 per kilowatt.

Ballem attributed the savings to a change in site design. He said the biggest savings in construction costs resulted from the change in the siting of the turbines.

The original design positioned the ten turbines in three lines close to East Point. In response to concerns about the impact of the turbines on migratory birds, however, the design was changed such that the turbines were placed in a single line on a ridge west of East Point. Doing so reduced transmission and road construction costs and also cut related expenses such as the crane rental because less time was spent moving from turbine to turbine.

Ballem further commended the dedicated, high-calibre work of both the project manager, Frontier Power Systems, and local contractors.

"There were a dozen Island businesses that worked on various parts of the project from road construction to pouring foundations. The quality of their work was excellent, but beyond that, they displayed a dedication to the job that made the difference. They were willing to do whatever they could to get this project done," he said.

Owned and operated by the PEI Energy Corporation, a Crown corporation, the Eastern Kings wind farm has a total capacity of 30 megawatts (MW), enough electricity to supply 12,000 homes or 7.5% of PEI's total electricity needs. At the same time, it will displace 75,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, equivalent to taking about 16,000 cars off the road.

Since beginning commercial operation in January, Eastern Kings has already generated just over $1 million in revenue. As an added economic benefit, PEI will save $8 million that used to be spent off-Island each year to import electricity.

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