NB Powerhas announced a plan to buy power from an Alberta companythat has promisedto build New Brunswick's first wind farm on the Kent Hills in Albert County.

"NB Power welcomes this opportunity in taking this next step in bringing wind energy to our province," utility president David Hay held a news conference Friday to announce the deal.

TransAlta Corporation expects to build 25 wind turbines, which will generate about 220,000 MWh of electricity per year, enough to supply about 13,600 homes per year. The deal calls for the company to begin producing wind power by 2008.

TransAlta is a private, electrical power generating company that owns and operates 50 power plants around the world,as well as200 wind turbines in Alberta.

Canada has more than 1,100 wind turbines producing commercial power in eight provinces, but none are in New Brunswick, where the province has instead invested in big polluting thermal electricitical generators like Coleson Cove and Belledune.

NB Power had expected to get into the wind-power game last spring. Two years ago, Hay announced a plan to have deals in place to buy electricity from up to five wind farms around the province.

Friday's announcement, already nine months late, will see the construction of just one of those five promised wind farms.

However, Energy Minister Jack Keir said more are coming.

"It's great to see that a wind development is taking place, but one of the things that New Brunswick should be looking at is trying to situate this in the context of removing our dirtier sources of energy."

Environmentalists applauded the announcement, saying they hope wind energy will help wean New Brunswick off of its polluting power plants.

That is unlikely, however, becauseNew Brunswick's governingLiberals promised in September's election that in addition to wind, they are also interested in building a second thermal powerplant, likely fired by coal, in Belledune.