"It's a thrill to start up the first of the turbines at this 138-megawatt wind farm and get the project up and running," said Selinger. "As one of the largest wind farms in Canada, this project builds on Manitoba's position as a leader in renewable energy development, complementing our existing hydroelectricity supply, geothermal activities, biofuel production and aggressive energy-conservation programming."
Manitoba Hydro and Pattern Energy negotiated a 27-year power purchase agreement to make the project possible. Work continues on the balance of turbines and they are expected to be fully operational in the next month or two.
"The St. Joseph wind farm grows the province's portfolio of clean energy sources," said Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Bob Brennan. "It's a good fit with our hydroelectric system."
"Pattern has nearly finished construction on a world-class wind project in St. Joseph and created 350 construction jobs due to the vision of the province, the supportive community of St. Joseph, the hard work and collaboration of our best-in-class partners Siemens and Mortenson, and the workers who had to face difficult weather conditions," said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy. "Together we are creating a local energy source that will benefit the St. Joseph area and its residents including the generation of millions of dollars of municipal revenues over the life of the project."
The total cost of the wind farm, located about 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg, is estimated at $345 million. Pattern Energy will also pay landholders in the rural municipalities of Montcalm and Rhineland a total of $38 million over the life of the project.
"This project demonstrates one of the remarkable advantages of wind energy, with project construction starting last April and the first power being delivered in less than 10 months," said Selinger. "There are over 300 workers on site during construction, the majority of whom are local, further helping our economy grow. Once all 60 turbines are complete, this wind farm will provide enough clean, renewable energy to serve 50,000 homes."
The St. Joseph wind farm covers an area of 125 square kilometres of privately owned agricultural land in the two municipalities.
The 2.3-megawatt turbines are set on towers that are 80 metres high. When fully operational, the wind farm will contribute to a regional reduction of more than 350,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
The project is the largest of two wind farms in Manitoba. Manitoba's first wind farm became operational in 2006 and is located near St. Leon, just southwest of Carman. That project produces 100 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to supply 35,000 homes.