Wind farms are sprouting across the continent, but nowhere else do they turn in such magnificent settings. Canada's first wind farm, Cowley Ridge, was erected in 1993 to harvest the steady westerly winds, and occasional supercharged Chinooks, that blast over Cowley Ridge as they exit Crowsnest Pass. These original 257 Canadian Hydro turbines continue to generate more than 60 megawatts of electricity per year, enough to power, 7,500 homes.
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Cowley Ridge Wind Farm
From intersection with Highway 3 (GPS N49.34.09, W114.04.40) head east on Township Road 73 to intersection with Range Road 14 (GPS N49.34.03, W114.05.29). Turn south on Range Road 14 to the peak of the ridgeline (GPS N49.32.42, W114.05.29.)
Castle River Wind Farm
Now, head back east on Township Road 70 to its intersection with Range Road 13, also called South Fork Road (GPS N49,31.27, W114.03.14). Continue east along Range Road 13, cross the Castle River, and proceed uphill to the intersection with Range Road 11 (GPS N49,31.23, W114.01.17). Head south on Range Road 11 to the centre of the linear wind farm (GPS N49.30.16, W114.01.24). After admiring the turbines up close, continue south on Range Road 11 to its intersection with Highway 507 (GPS N49.28.22, W114.01.24). Turn east towards Pincher Creek and, perhaps, stop for refreshment at Celestial Sweets (just off Main Street on Kettles St.).
Kettles Hill Wind Farm
The Kettles Hill Wind Farm is arrayed along a ridgeline east of Pincher Creek. A road parallels the windmills and provides exceptional views of foothills agricultural lands, the Porcupine Hills to the north, and the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Drive to the T-intersection at the eastern end of Pincher Creek's Main Street (GPS N49.29.08, W113.55.31) where Seconday Highway 507 turns sharply south. Turn north on Range Road 31 to intersection with Secondary Highway 785 (GPS N49.29.31, W113.55.31). Turn east on Seconday Highway 785 to intersection with Township Road 64 (GPS N49.29.33, W113.54.53). Head east to intersection with Range Road 293 (GPS N49.21.41, W113.50.39), turn north and follow the ridge line. Continue along the line of windmills to intersection with Township Road 65 (GPS W49.30.34, N113.50.10). Turn west and follow the gravel roads in a northwesterly direction to rejoin Alberta Highway 3 (GPS N49.30.34, W113.50.10).
With a planned increase in transmission capacity the wind industry is poised for further significant growth.
The region's wind resources, exceptionally sunny skies, and supply of agricultural waste promise great opportunities for wind, solar, geo-thermal and waste-to-energy technology development.