CALGARY — A major Alberta utility has cancelled a large wind power project in response to new government rules on where such developments can be built.

TransAlta CEO John Kousinioris said Friday the 300-megawatt Riplinger project near Cardston in southern Alberta will no longer proceed.

"We've reassessed our growth plans in the province," he said in a conference call to analysts.

"(The project) has been impacted by the new restrictions on development near protected areas and pristine viewscapes and will not be advanced. The project has been removed from our growth pipeline."

TransAlta is also to put three other developments on hold, as the government goes through a redesign of the province's electricity market.

The 100-megawatt Tempest wind project south of Lethbridge is affected by that delay, as is the gas-fired, 44-megawatt Pinnacle generator west of Edmonton and the 180-megawatt WaterCharger battery storage facility near Cochrane.

"They have been placed on hold until we receive sufficient clarity," Kousinioris said.

In February, the United Conservative Party government announced new rules on the development of renewable power in the province. They impose a new 35-kilometre buffer zone around protected areas and what the government calls "pristine viewscapes."

Riplinger would have been about 45 kilometres by road from Waterton National Park and about 55 kilometres from Beauvais Lake Provincial Park.

TransAlta is also to put three other developments on hold, as the government goes through a redesign of the province's electricity market. #Alberta

Kousinioris said the Riplinger project would have been on the edge of an exclusion zone.

The rules followed a seven-month moratorium on renewable energy approvals after the government decided the industry was growing too quickly, threatening agriculture and marring Alberta's landscape.

Analysts disputed the need for those restrictions, saying renewable energy is well down on the list of threats to farmland.

It's the second setback this week for low-carbon energy generation in Alberta.

Electricity generator Capital Power announced Wednesday it would cancel plans for a $2.4-billion carbon capture and storage project for its natural gas facility near Edmonton.

CEO Avik Dey said the cost of the project was too high and the regulatory environment around it too uncertain to justify going ahead.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2024.

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Why not impose the same rules on oil and gas development, and create a level playing field? While you are at cancel all federal and provincial subsidies for oil and gas development, which currently amount to $268 per capita

Danielle Smith won't do the same for oil & gas as that is who she really works for, not the people of Alberta. This so-called pristine nonsense against green energy is to appease the oil & gas industry who now runs the province. Smith and the UPC are just puppets at this stage, and Albertans have been dupped.

If the Feds are so concerned with climate change, I really don't understand why they won't drop all oil & gas subsidies, it's like an oxymoron not doing so.

Albertans have been duped ever since Peter Lougheed stepped down as premier. The vacuum was filled with oil industry marionettes and a buffoon or two.

If you support oil sand development, which turns the water poisonous and makes the ground look like Mordor, it is pretty rich to oppose wind power because of pristine landscapes. Like every recent Alberta premier, Smith is owned by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Alberta could save a lot of money if they shut down the legislature and turned all governing powers over to CAPP. The outcomes would be the same.

Albertans are now paying the highest electricity rates in the nation, mainly because the government they elected cleared the path of every competitve renewable energy alternative to their gas fired power plants, and chose to ignore the egregious jacking of prices and very inconvenient winter shortages.

The government Albertans elected doesn't care about ordinary Albertans. The government Albertans elected is leading the province headlong into a future where poverty will be a growth industry as the rest of the world and other parts of Canada make the transition to affordable clean energy.

While Smith strips the province of Alberta of reliable renewable energy and economic diversification from a macro regulatory level, I think it's impossible for Smith to step into Alberta's private family decisions and property rights to strip them of the freedom and independence to put solar panels on their roofs and residential scale power storage batteries in their basements.

Smith may even enter the next stage of belligerent silliness and ban sales of solar PV panels to individuals province-wide. Notley tried that with BC wines, and sales went up! As did smuggling.