Calgary-based TransAlta will expand the capacity of its southeastern New Brunswick wind farm after securing a 25-year power purchase deal from the East Coast province.

TransAlta operates a 96-megawatt wind farm in Kent Hills and under the new proposal, it will expand that site by an additional 54 megawatts, the company said Monday.

The company estimates the capital costs for the expansion will hit $100 million.

Premier Shawn Graham said in a statement that the announcement shows the government's commitment to "to derive environmental and economic benefits from our province's world-class wind resource."

Under the terms of the agreement, TransAlta must select local companies capable of supplying the services and products they require to boost the wind farm's capacity.

TransAlta is expected to start construction on the expanded wind farm early this year, pending regulatory and environmental approvals. It is expected to be plugged into the provincial power grid by the end of the year.

The company will be installing 18 new turbines to its wind farm. When the project is finished, the company estimates, the Kent Hills facility will produce enough electricity to power 9,000 homes per year.

The New Brunswick government's renewable energy policy outlines a plan to secure 400 megawatts of wind energy in 2010.

Along with the Kent Hills project, the province has announced plans to establish a 99-megawatt wind farm in Caribou Mountain, a 64.5-megawatt facility in Aulac and a 49.5-megawatt operation in Lamèque.