Alberta Sundance power station

From Global Energy Monitor

Alberta Sundance is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by TransAlta in Alberta, Canada.

Unit 1 was retired in 2018, Unit 2 was first mothballed and then retired in 2018, and the remaining power station is planned for conversion to gas-burning in 2021-2023.

Location

The undated satellite photo below shows the plant, located 70 kilometers west of Edmonton, Alberta on the south shore of Wabamun Lake.

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Background

The facility is the largest coal-fired electrical generating facility in western Canada, with a total of six generating units:[1]

Retirement

In February 2011, TransAlta said it will be closing operations at two of the Sundance coal-fired units because repairs would be too costly. The Sundance 1 and 2 units have been down since December 2010. The units comprise 560 MW of the 2,126 MW Sundance power plant, which operates as a baseload facility for the Alberta electricity system.[2]

The closing of the units could cost consumers more than $200 million in unrealized refunds through Alberta’s Balancing Pool. The agency that oversees power purchase agreements would have to pay that amount to TransAlta as net book value of the plants and to TransCanada as partial payment on the remainder of its contract. TransCanada holds the Sundance units' power purchase agreement and expects reimbursement.[2]

In 2011 TransAlta brought units 1-2 back online because it was demanded under the company’s PPA agreement with TransCanada.[3]

In April 2017 TransAlta said it plans to retire Sundance Units 1-2 effective January 1, 2018, but the utility is seeking approval to have unit 2 on reserve between 2019 and 2021. Additionally, TransAlta plans conversion of Sundance Units 3 to 6 from coal-fired generation to gas-fired generation in the 2021 to 2023 timeframe, for use until the mid-2030s.[4]

In December 2017 TransAlta announced that Unit 3 and Unit 6 would be mothballed until 2020 due to low demand for electricity. The two units then mothballed were actually Unit 3 and Unit 5.[5]

TransAlta retired Sundance Unit 1 effective January 1, 2018, and mothballed Sundance Unit 2 effective January 1, 2018, for a period of up to 2 years.[6]

An October 31, 2018 TransAta press release states that in the third quarter of 2018 the company "Retired the previously mothballed Sundance Unit 2 due to its relatively short useful life, small size relative to other units, and the capital required to return the unit to service."[7]

In March 2019 TransAlta received approval from the Alberta Electric System Operator to continue mothballing Unit 3 and Unit 5 until November 2021, an extension of 18 months.[8]

In May 2020 TransAlta's CEO Dawn Farrell stated on a quarterly earnings call with investors that Unit 6 would be converted to gas in 2020.[9]

Capacity upgrades

A 53-megawatt uprate to Sundance 5 was completed in 2009 at a cost of $75 million. Additionally, a 44-megawatt upgrade was completed on Sundance 6 in 2001 and a 53-megawatt uprate on Sundance 4 in 2007. In May 2015, TransAlta completed a 15-megawatt uprate on Sundance 3.[10]

Coal supply

TransAlta's Highvale coal mine supplies Sundance with coal.[11]

Plant Data

  • Owner: TransAlta Centralia Generation LLC
  • Parent Company: TransAlta
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 2,133 MW (Units 1-2: 280 MW; Unit 3: 380 MW; Unit 4: 433 MW ; Unit 5: 433 MW ; Unit 6: 422 MW)
  • Status: Units 1-2: Retired; Unit 3: Mothballed; Unit 4: Operating; Unit 5: Mothballed; Unit 6: Operating
  • In service: Unit 1: 1970-2018; Unit 2: 1970-2018; Unit 3: 1976-2018 (mothballed); Unit 4: 1976-present; Unit 5: 1976-2018 (mothballed); Unit 6: 1980-present
  • Location: Wabamun, AB
  • GPS Coordinates: 53.5072, -114.5567
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: TransAlta's Highvale coal mine
  • Number of Employees:

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