Calgary power plant expansion sought by Enmax

Enmax wants to boost the capacity of its Calgary Energy Centre by almost 200 megawatts. The power may be needed as Alberta begins to rely more on renewable energy like wind and solar power in the future.

Coal plants are expected to be phased-out as climate change policy goes ahead

Enmax is proposing adding three new stacks to the Calgary Energy Centre for natural gas generation. (Enmax)

Enmax is asking the provincial utilities regulator for permission to expand one of its Calgary power plants.

It wants the Alberta Utilities Commission to approve the addition of three natural gas-fired generators to the Calgary Energy Centre. The plant is located on the northeastern outskirts of the city.

The new generators would add almost 200 megawatts of power to the plant's capacity. It currently produces 320 megawatts of electricity.

Enmax said Alberta's electrical grid will rely more on wind and solar power facilities in the future and wants the additional capacity at this plant for what's known as "peaking power" — when the electricity is needed due to a lack of wind or sun.

Alberta's climate change policy calls for a gradual phasing-out of the province's coal-fired power plants. 

If approved by the AUC, the new generators would go into service in 2019. Enmax, which is owned by the City of Calgary, is not releasing a budget for the project at this time.

Climate change plan

Jim Law with the AUC said there have been six applications for new power generating facilities in the past year. They include five natural gas-fired projects and one new wind farm.

Just because an application is made to the AUC doesn't always mean the project is going ahead.

Law said once the AUC approves a project, construction is typically based on market forces and an applicant's final decision to proceed.

Of the six applications in 2015-16, Law said "We have two that are active, two are actually on hold and we've had two decisions issued, so from year to year it can vary in terms of what actually gets built."

The AUC is ready for the additional applications that could appear as the province's climate change policy moves ahead. 

"It's only recently the climate plan was announced and so I think in the coming months, as details are finalized around the AESO (Alberta Electric System Operator) plan to bring renewables on, we'd expect to see an uptick," said Law.


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