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TransAlta

TransAlta Corporation
Company typePublic
TSXTA
NYSETAC
IndustryPower generation
Founded1911
HeadquartersCalgary, Alberta, Canada
Key people
John Kousinioris (President and CEO), John P. Dielwart (Board Chair) Appt’d April 21, 2020
ProductsPower Generation (8,128 MW aggregate generating capacity).
RevenueCA$2.1 billion (2020)
Total assetsCA$9.7 billion (2020)
Number of employees
1,476 (Dec. 31, 2020)
Websitewww.transalta.com

TransAlta Corporation (formerly Calgary Power Company, Ltd.) is an electricity power generator and wholesale marketing company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is a privately owned corporation and its shares are traded publicly. It operates 76 power plants in Canada, the United States, and Australia. TransAlta operates wind, hydro, natural gas, and coal power generation facilities. The company has been recognized for its leadership in sustainability by the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index, the FTSE4Good Index, and the Jantzi Social Index. TransAlta is Canada's largest investor-owned renewable energy provider.[citation needed]

The company is not without controversy, as the Alberta Utility Commission ruled in 2015 that TransAlta manipulated the price of electricity when it took outages at its Alberta coal-fired generating units in late 2010 and early 2011.[1]

TransAlta operated Canada's largest surface strip coal mine from 1970 until 2021 through its subsidiary company Sunhills Mining. The 12,600 hectare mine produced 13 million tonnes of thermal grade coal a year. The company announced that it would be decommission the Highvale mine by 2021.[2]

On November 2, 2023, it was announced that TransAlta bought Heartland Generation (the third largest electricity generation company at the time) for $658 million. The purchase means that TransAlta now controls 46% of the electricity generation market in Alberta - a development that has been criticized by numerous academics and industry officials as "a catastrophe" and likely to lead to economic withholding.[3][4]

History

In 1909, TransAlta began the planning and construction of the Horseshoe Falls Hydro Plant in Seebe, Alberta. Two years later, Calgary Power Company, Ltd. was born.

That first dam was built by a crew of about 200 with primitive tools such as picks and wheelbarrows. It initially had a 10 MW capacity (13,500 horsepower).[5] A second dam was commissioned in 1913 at Kananaskis Falls and was built by close to 500 workers.

At the time, streetcars were responsible for a significant share of Calgary's electrical load. Residential power was just being introduced, and many homes were lit for the first time with electrical lamps because of Calgary Power. Calgary Power's cheap energy is credited with Canadian Pacific Railway's decision to locate its regional engine repair shop in Ogden, Calgary, spurring the city's economic development.[6]

Notable leaders from the company's early years included W. Max Aitken (later known as Lord Beaverbrook) and R.B. Bennett, who went on to become Canada's Prime Minister from 1930 to 1935.

The company's monopoly position and behaviour made its status as a private corporation unpopular among rural customers and some Calgary residents, and a move to nationalize it was converted to a province-wide referendum in 1948, which came down very narrowly on the side of maintaining its private ownership.

In 1981, the company changed its name to its current name of TransAlta Corporation.

At the end of 2010, TransAlta became the first company to own and operate more than 1,000 MW of installed wind capacity in Canada—almost 30 per cent of the country's total.

TransAlta has gradually been transitioning its energy-generating facilities away from coal, due to adverse environmental effects, towards natural gas. Its last remaining operational coal mine, in Highvale, AB, will cease mining operations on December 31, 2021, and transition to mine reclamation in the years to follow.[7]

Governance

As of November 2023, TransAlta's Corporate Officers/Senior Managers are:

Name Position Background
John Kousinioris President/CEO Former Partner at Bennett Jones.
Todd Stack CFO/EVP
Jane N. Fedoretz CAO/EVP Formerly Legal Counsel for Blake, Cassels, & Graydon, Petro-Canada, and CEDA International Corporation.
Kerry O'Reilly Wilks EVP Former Partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, Head of Legal at Vale Canada, Director of Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and Director of The Giles School.
Chris Fralick EVP Former COO at Ontario Power Generation, President/CEO of Atura Power, and Board Chair at Confederation College.
Aron Willis EVP
Blaine van Melle EVP
Scott Jeffers EVP Former Associate at Bennett Jones.
Brent Ward SVP/CFO
Michelle Cameron Managing Director Former Senior Manager at PwC and VP at Walton Group of Companies.
David Little SVP Former VP at Innergex Renewable Energy, Senior Director at Enel Green Power, SVP at Padoma Wind Power, and Managing Director at Catamount Energy.

As of November 2023, TransAlta's Board of Directors consisted of:

Name Background
Rona Ambrose Former Interim-Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Cabinet Minister under Stephen Harper including Minister of the Environment (as which she pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol); former Member of the Trilateral Commission, Board Member of Juul,[8] Member of the Advisory Council on NAFTA, Global Fellow at the Wilson Centre Canada Institute, and Deputy Chair of TD Securities.
John P. Dielwart Former CEO of ARC Resources and Board Chair of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Alan J. Fohrer Former CEO of Southern California Edison, President/CEO of Edison Mission Energy (filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2012, and was bought out by NRG Energy), Director at Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, Advisor at Schneider Electric, Director at Osmose, Director at MWH Global (bought by Stantec in 2016), Director at Synagro, Director at Blue Shield of California, and Director at PNM Resources.
Laura W. Folse Former CEO/EVP at BP Wind Energy North America and led the clean-up team for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest marine oil spill in global history.
Harry Goldgut Former CEO of Brookfield Renewable Power/Infrastructure Groups and Director at Isagen S.A. ESP (bought by Brookfield Corporation in 2016).
John Kousinioris
Candace MacGibbon Former President/CEO at INV Metals Inc., former global mining institutional equity sales at RBC Capital Markets, former equity research associate at BMO Capital Markets, Board Member at Osisko Gold Royalties, and Incoming President-Elect (2023-24) at Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum.
Thomas M. O'Flynn Former CEO/EVP at AES Corporation, Senior Advisor/COO at Blackstone Inc., EVP/CFO at Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated, Head of North America Power at Morgan Stanley, and Senior Advisor for Energy Impact Partners.
Bryan D. Pinney Lead Director for North American Construction Group Ltd., Director at Sundial Growers Inc., former Board of Governors Chair of Mount Royal University, Calgary Managing Partner at Arthur Andersen (the firm collapsed in 2002 due to its involvement in the Enron scandal), Vice-Chair at Deloitte Canada, Chair of Calgary Petroleum Club.
James Reid Former Managing Partner/CIO at Brookfield Private Equity Group in Calgary and Brookfield Infrastructure Group.
Manjit Sharma Former CFO/Chair of Pension Trust at General Electric Canada, CFO at WSP Canada Inc., Board Member at Export Development Canada, Board Member at Vermilion Energy, and Board Member at Finning.
Sandra Sharman Head of HR/Communications/Marketing/Enterprise Real Estate at CIBC.
Sarah A. Slusser CEO of Cypress Creek Renewables, LLC, Founder of Point Reyes Energy Partners LLC, Co-Founder of GeoGlobal Energy LLC, and SVP at AES Corporation.

Ghost River Reservoir

Since the 2013 Alberta floods, as a temporary partial solution to mitigate flood damage during those months when there is a greater risk of rising water that might cause flooding, the Government of Alberta entered into an agreement with TransAlta to manage water on the Bow River at its Ghost Reservoir facility. This was extended in 2016 with a new five-year agreement that included water management of its Kananaskis Lakes system (which includes Interlakes, Pocaterra and Barrier) for drought mitigation.

Controversies

On March 21, 2014, the Alberta Market Surveillance Administrator (MSA) filed an application with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) alleging TransAlta manipulated the price of electricity when it took outages at its Alberta coal-fired generating units in late 2010 and early 2011. While TransAlta disputed the MSA's allegations, the AUC ruled TransAlta's actions in relation to four outage events spanning 11 days in 2010 and 2011 restricted or prevented a competitive response from the associated Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) buyers and manipulated market prices away from a competitive market outcome. On Sept. 30, 2015, TransAlta and the province's MSA reached an agreement to settle all outstanding proceedings before the AUC. The settlement, which is in the form of a consent order, was approved by the AUC on Oct. 29, 2015.[9]

Under the terms of the agreement, TransAlta paid a total amount of (CDN) $56 million that included approximately $27 million as a repayment of economic benefit, approximately $4 million to cover the MSA's legal and related costs, and a $25 million administrative penalty. As part of the settlement agreement, TransAlta agreed to discontinue its court appeal of the AUC's decision concerning the four outage events.TransAlta's legal appeal came as a result of the AUC's determination in its ruling that the “MSA did not prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the company breached applicable legislation on the basis that its compliance policies, practices, and oversight thereof, were inadequate and deficient.”

In response to the dispute regarding its understanding of Alberta market rules governing forced outages, TransAlta implemented two independent, third-party reviews of its compliance procedures. The results of the reviews by McCarthy Tétrault[10] and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP[11] were publicly released, including recommendations for improvement.

In 2016, it was revealed that TransAlta gave $54,000 to University of Alberta professor Warren Kindzierski to research the health impacts of coal-fired plants near Edmonton. The study concluded that 'the high number of coal-fired power plants near the city of Edmonton doesn't negatively impact the health of local residents,' and was used by TransAlta as 'scientific backing' to push for an alternative to Alberta's then-plan to phase out coal by 2030. Between 2013 and 2015, TransAlta provided an additional $175,000 to the University of Alberta in sponsorship agreements for research and academic projects. The incident was highlighted by members of the university's Corporate Mapping Project for exemplifying the deeper issue of undisclosed corporate funding and influence in academic research in Canada.[12]

Hydro facilities in British Columbia

Upper Mamquam, built by Canadian Hydro Developers and operational since 2005, is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric plant 5 km northeast of Squamish, BC. The penstock is 1.6 km long, dropping 120 meters to the powerhouse containing two 12.5 MW Pelton wheel generators.[13][14]

Bone Creek a hydroelectric plant constructed in 2011, has a 5 km penstock dropping 148 meters to a powerhouse with two 9.6MW Francis turbines. It is located 90 km south of Valemount, BC and operated by Valisa Energy Inc. Approximately 72 GWh of power annually is sold to BC Hydro.[15]

Akolkolex, built by Canadian Hydro Developers and operational since 1995, uses two Francis turbines in a 10 MW run-of-river hydroelectric plant discharging into Arrow Lakes. It is located 25 km SE of Revelstoke, B.C. The plant produces approximately 37 GWh of electricity annually.[16]

Pingston Creek has a 12 meter high sheetpile rock-fill dam which diverts water to the western shore of Arrow Lakes. It was built by Canadian Hydro Developers and Brascan Power and began operation as Pingston Power Inc. in 2003. A 4 km tunnel achieves a huge drop of 557 meters to three 15 MW Pelton wheels to generate about 200 GWh annually.[17] The project is 53 km south of Revelstoke, BC.

Energy generation summary

TransAlta hydroelectric plant at the Spray Lakes Reservoir, Kananaskis Country, Alberta
  • 8,128 megawatts (MW) of aggregate generation capacity (2020).
  • 24,980 gigawatt hours (GWh) were produced at an average plant availability of 90.3 per cent for the year ended December 31, 2020.
  • 76 facilities in three geographies: Canada, U.S., Australia
  • One surface coal mine in operation: Highvale in Alberta, Canada. Its operations will transition to 100 per cent mine reclamation effective Jan. 1, 2022.[7]

Net Capacity Owned by Fuel Type
(in operation and in development 2021)

Type Net Capacity
Coal 28%
Gas 35%
Wind/Solar 24%
Hydro 13%

Net Capacity Owned by Geography
(in operation and development)

Geography Net Capacity
Canada 80%
United States 14%
Australia 6%

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ Alberta Utilities Commission (July 27, 2015). "Market Surveillance Administrator allegations against TransAlta Corporation (Phase 1)" (PDF). Alberta Utilities Commission.
  2. ^ Johnson, Lisa (4 November 2020). "TransAlta to end coal mining operations at Highvale in 2021, stop using coal in Canada". The Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  3. ^ Kinney, Duncan (November 27, 2023). "Proposed Transalta acquisition mean your electricity bills are somehow going to get even worse". Progress Report. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  4. ^ Varcoe, Chris (November 2, 2023). "Alberta power market shakeup, as TransAlta buys Heartland Generation for $658M". Calgary Herald. Postmedia. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  5. ^ Jennings, A. Owen (1911). Merchants and manufacturers record of Calgary. Calgary: Jennings Publishing Company. p. 85.
  6. ^ Foran, Max (1982). Calgary, Canada's frontier metropolis : an illustrated history. Windsor Publications. p. 76. ISBN 0-89781-055-4.
  7. ^ a b Johnson, Lisa (20 November 2020). "TransAlta to end coal mining operations at Highvale in 2021, stop using coal in Canada". The Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  8. ^ Rieger, Sarah. "Rona Ambrose, Canada's former health minister, joins e-cigarette company Juul's board of directors". CBC. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  9. ^ Alberta Utilities Commission (October 29, 2015). "Market Surveillance Administrator allegations against TransAlta Corp. et al. (Phase 2 – Request for Consent Order)" (PDF). Alberta Utilities Commission.
  10. ^ McCarthy Tétrault LLP (April 15, 2016). "Review by McCarthy Tétrault of the TransAlta Outage Practices" (PDF). TransAlta. George Vegh, McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
  11. ^ PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (April 2016). "TransAlta Corp. Energy Compliance Program Assessment" (PDF). TransAlta Corp.
  12. ^ Linnitt, Carol. "When Coal Companies Fund Public Health Research: The Case of TransAlta and the University of Alberta". The Narwhal. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-19. Retrieved 2015-08-16.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Upper Mamquam". TransAlta. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  15. ^ "Bone Creek". TransAlta. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  16. ^ "Akolkolex". TransAlta. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  17. ^ "Pingston – Canadian Projects". canprojects.com.

Sources

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TransAlta
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