Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips speaks with the media during a news conference in Ottawa on October 24, 2018. The Alberta government is granting a 20-year contract to supply about half of its electric supply needs to a partnership that plans to build three new solar power plants for more than $100 million.

Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips says the contract to supply about 55 per cent of the government's anual power needs will shave $3.9 million from the current expiring contracts. She says the winning bid of 4.8 cents per kilowatt-hour by 50-50 partners Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. and Conklin Metis Local 193 was selected from 19 companies through a competitive procurement process.

John Gorman, CEO of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, said during the announcement the power price is so low it's "almost unbelievable," adding it is less than the average cost of building natural gas powered power generation.

Ryan Tourigny, director of development for Canadian Solar, says construction on the three plants at Hays, Jenner and Tilley in southern Alberta will begin in early 2020 and are expected to come on stream in 2021.

The plants are to produce about 94 megawatts at peak times, enough to power about 20,000 homes, and about 270 jobs will be created during construction.

On-line comments:

wfp-222569: Recognizing that solar power is not firm power, it is still instructive to note the cost per MW of these Alberta plants is only just over $1 million compared to Keeyask's cost at $12.5 million. The difference is a big price to pay for storage. The declining cost of batteries will soon make Keeyask uncompetitive.

Reply by: Dennis Woodford: In 2017, Alberta had 37% firm generation of coal, gas and hydro generators above its peak load. No storage needed. This excess is more than enough to balance the electricity demand from the solar generation when the sun isn't shining. The 2018 report not yet released.

wfp-222569: Alberta was wise to wait until solar energy had become competitive instead of locking in prematurely at uncompetitive prices as Ontario did. But that day is here for systems that are sufficiently robust to back solar up when the sun isn't shining. What a collossal mistake Manitoba made when it launched Keeyask and then continued it!