Developers seek four-year delay for 856-MW Sundance 7 project

The Alberta Utilities Commission said in a Dec. 15 notice that it is considering an application from TransAlta MidAmerican Partnership (TAMA Power) to extend the construction completion date for the Sundance 7 gas-fired power plant, from Dec. 31, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2022.

The commission is taking comment until Jan. 13 on the extension request.

Sundance 7 will be located in the Lake Wabamun area at the existing coal-fired Sundance plant. Sundance 7 will consist of two natural gas-fired combustion turbine generators, each rated at 345 megavolt-amperes, one steam turbine generator rated at 400 megavolt-amperes and a standby diesel generator. The plant is targeted to have a gross nominal generation capability of 856 MW.

The Nov. 16 extension request from TAMA Power cited “current regulatory uncertainty and economic volatility in Alberta” as the reasons for the delay. It didn’t explain further. The economic volatility would apparently be in part due to collapsing world oil prices, which are hurting the Alberta economy, which heavily depends on relatively high-cost oil sands production.

The Alberta Utilities Commission on June 9 approved an April 2014 application from TAMA Power for this project. Existing industrial facilities located in the area include TransAlta Corp.’s existing Sundance Generating Facility Units 1-6, Keephills Generating Facility Units 1-3 and the Highvale Coal Mine.

The commission approval noted: “TAMA Power stated that the project would allow TransAlta (through TAMA Power) to continue supporting the local economy and the existing labour force. If approved, the proposed power plant would create approximately 500 jobs during construction and another 35 full-time positions during operations.”

The approval order added: “TAMA Power anticipates an in-service date of December 2018. Sundance 7 would be interconnected to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System through AltaLink Management Ltd.’s 500-kilovolt network.”

Said the project website: “TransAlta Corporation and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company joined forces to create TransAlta MidAmerican Partnership (‘TAMA Power’) in October 2012. TAMA Power is committed to building reliable, economical and environmentally responsible natural gas fuelled power generation facilities for Albertans.”

MidAmerican Energy Holdings is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway that controls U.S. electric utilities like MidAmerican Energy and PacifiCorp.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.