Renewable energy program to add 5,000 megawatts of capacity by 2030, says environment minister

The Alberta government has announced details surrounding contracts for renewable power — such as wind, hydro and solar — for future electricity generation.

Competitive bidding process structured to limit costs to consumers

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips unveiled another piece of Alberta's climate plan on Thursday at the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) annual conference and exhibition in Calgary. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

A renewable energy program generating wind, hydro and solar power will add 5,000 megawatts of capacity to the province's grid, according to Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.

"There will be a competitive process among wind energy companies to bid on a contract for renewable power in the province," Phillips told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"So today is sort of the first step in the real nitty-gritty details for the investment community on how we're going to move forward on that."

The Renewable Electricity Program will be administered by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and is expected to add 5,000 megawatts of renewable electricity capacity by 2030. 

Speaking Thursday morning at an annual wind energy conference in Calgary, Phillips said the program is a "key part" of the province's Climate Leadership Plan to meet its target of having 30 per cent of Alberta's electricity come from renewables.

The Alberta NDP have set a target to get 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity by 2030 from wind, hydro and solar power. (Reuters)

The first competition will take place in 2017, and see investors bidding to provide up to 400 megawatts of renewable electricity. 

In a statement, the province said, "Safeguards will be in place to ensure that the process is fair and transparent," and help limit costs to consumers.

Successful projects will be financially supported by reinvesting a portion of the upcoming carbon tax on large industrial emitters.

Alberta to lead new wind development

That's helping drive record attendance at the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) annual conference and exhibition.

"Purely, this puts Alberta as a leader for new wind development in Canada," said conference spokesperson Jean Francois Nolet. 

"It is very positive. It's about $10-billion in investment that is coming up in this province."

And while wind technology has come a long way, some believe the Alberta plan for renewable is highly ambitious.

"It's a big issue to try and integrate wind when it's not exactly predictable all the time," said Michael Moore with the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy.

The provincial government estimates 7,200 jobs will be created in Alberta from renewable power projects.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener