The sod has been turned for New Brunswick's first 32-turbine wind farm in Albert County.

The project, worth $170 million, is being constructed on Crown land in the Kent Hills, 30 kilometres southwest of Moncton.

TransAlta Corp. chose the location to avoid conflicts with nearby landowners, said Jason Edworthy, managing director of market development with the company.

"We know there's good wind along the Bay of Fundy but we don't think it's appropriate to look at developments close to the water where it's scenic and where there's potential environmental issues," Edworthy said.

The company has been working on readying the project for four years, meeting with local landowners, environmentalists and native groups.

The 96-megawatt project should be on line in 2008 and marks a step forward in the province's renewable energy program, said Energy Minister Jack Keir.

"For New Brunswickers, this represents a more diverse generation mix for our province, which lessens our dependence on volatile fuel markets worldwide to run some of our generating plants," Keir said.

The province is trying to increase the production of renewable electricity by 10 per cent by 2016.

Currently about 23 per cent of the electricity consumed in the province comes from renewable sources.

The Kent Hills facility will provide 280,000-megawatt hours of power per year, which will meet the electricity needs of approximately 17,300 homes.