Whitla Wind: Transforming Headwinds into Wind Energy Success

Darcy Trufyn - Capital Power
By Darcy Trufyn, Senior Vice President, Operations, Engineering and Construction

At Capital Power, our work is driven by our commitment to deliver Responsible Energy for Tomorrow; from building new greener power generation facilities to optimizing our current operations, we are building a sustainable future for generations to come.  We also take pride in delivering on our commitments across all aspects of our business.

I am proud that we have successfully delivered another wind energy project, with our 201.6 MW Whitla Wind 1 facility in Alberta beginning commercial operations on December 1, 2019.  The entire team at Capital Power contributed to its success and it is thanks to their combined efforts we have been able to complete construction one month ahead of schedule and on budget.

Turning Headwinds into Headway

Each project we undertake, including Whitla Wind 1, comes with its own unique set of circumstances and challenges that our construction group contend with.

Early in the development of Whitla Wind 1, we faced stiff, global competition in the first Renewable Electricity Program (REP 1) procurement program – challenging us to be more innovative and more directly involved in the design and construction of Whitla Wind 1. We are proud to have been the only North American-based company awarded a contract in REP 1.

The timelines of our contract also meant we were building this project during a period of extremely high demand for wind turbines in North America – compelling us to collaborate closely with Vestas, our turbine technology supplier, and Borea, our turbine erection contractor. Our collective success was reliant on our ability to navigate each others’ timelines to ensure we were able to deliver this project on schedule. Despite these challenges, our team was able to find solutions and keep work moving ahead responsibly.

Applying and Expanding Our Wind Development Expertise

An innovative feature of Whitla Wind 1 for Capital Power is that it was the first project that Capital Power has undertaken as the prime construction manager.

Our past practice for construction projects has been to hire an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor to manage the project. For Whitla Wind 1, however, there were 26 projects simultaneously competing for REP 1. The EPC contractors, as a result, were stretched to their limits. We believed our best strategy was to estimate the work ourselves and take on the role of prime construction manager. This execution strategy did place a much greater burden on the entire Capital Power organization. I had confidence, however, that Capital Power could take the next step, successfully manage this new role, and utilize the experience and expertise we’ve developed through the numerous wind facilities we’ve constructed over the past 8 years. By operating as the prime construction manager, we were also able to advance our construction timelines more effectively, complete systems more methodically and place turbines into testing and commissioning earlier.

Our success in delivering Whitla Wind 1 is a testament to the professionalism and strength of the entire Capital Power team.

Building Community Connections

Our plan is to be a member of the community for a long time. That’s just who we are. We build and operate power generation facilities that are around for 30+ years, which gives us the opportunity to support and grow with the community. Capital Power is in the business of being your neighbour when we operate in your community and we want to do our part to contribute. For Whitla Wind 1, we are very grateful for the support of our community partners, including the County of Forty Mile, Town of Bow Island, Village of Foremost and City of Medicine Hat. One of the advantages of us becoming the prime construction manager for this project was that it allowed us to use more of the local services and suppliers in the region directly because we were involved in granular aspects of project planning. We hired and sourced supplies locally, got to know our community and built relationships that will benefit us for years to come. Overall for the Whitla Wind 1 project, we are proud to have provided:

  • A new and steady stream of municipal tax revenue
  • Annual lease revenues to project landowners
  • Employment opportunities during the construction process (peak construction had 250+ workers at site)
  • Over 70 million dollars in construction contracts awarded to local companies

Powering Tomorrow

Looking to the future, we are committed to operating Whitla Wind 1 responsibly and delivering renewable energy to Alberta’s grid. I am also very excited that Capital Power has announced that we are moving forward with the development of Whitla Wind 2, which will add 97.2 MW of additional renewable energy capacity in 2021. We will build on our partnerships in the community and apply our learnings and experience from Whitla Wind 1 to deliver the next phase of this project again on time and on budget.