Planned development at Tent Mountain for the Renewable Energy complex. Montem photo.
Nicholas L. M. Allen
Mar 1, 2023
Representatives from Montem Resources and TransAlta took the time to speak about their merger involving the Tent Mountain Renewable Energy Complex on February 24.
Speaking on behalf of TransAlta was Blain van Melle, Executive Vice President of Alberta Business. He explained how this will be the end of coal mining at the Tent Mountain site, but the new project will create a “variety of different benefits” for the province.
“This partnership will help the project move ahead. TransAlta, as a large developer of power projects around the world and having been an operator and a developer in Alberta since about 1910, we think this project has an enormous benefit for the region and for the Crowsnest Pass,” said van Melle.
They expect the project at Tent Mountain to create a lot of jobs through the construction phase and through the operation phase of the project, which is around 80 years of run time. TransAlta expects the usage of the retired coal mine to create a sustainable renewable energy project that Alberta needs to continue increasing the amount of renewable energy feeding into the grid.
CEO of Montem Resources Peter Doyle, reinforced the desire to move away from coal as he said they are permanently moving away from coal mining in the area, with this asset being vital to the company’s future.
“We’ve been trying for a very long time to develop our assets down there and this is the only viable asset development that we have as a company and it’s a big investment in the local community,” said Doyle.
As a “strong foundation” for the growth of the economy, there are potentially four to six generations of people who will work at the Tent Mountain site between now and when it gets to the end of its life. Doyle added they couldn’t have asked for a “stronger partner” with more experience in major industry than TransAlta.
“It’s a huge step forward, we’re overwhelmed with anticipation and excitement of having this partnership with TransAlta,” said Doyle.
As a 50 per cent shareholder in the project, TransAlta will take the lead development role while working in conjunction with Montem Resources. According to van Melle, Montem brings a lot of historical knowledge with them to the project while TransAlta has a history of developing numerous power projects.
“We have great confidence that TransAlta will guide us on the technical aspects,” said Doyle.
Being a part of the community for a few years, Doyle said he will still be present in the area at various meetings and will represent the partnership between TransAlta and Montem.
“You’ll definitely see the Montem folk around town and they might be wearing a new logo or two. We’re advancing this together,” explained Doyle.
Although it’s too early to say if there’ll be any challenges, they will start doing a lot of geotechnical work in the fall. Through this process they will find out if there are any additional challenges. With a project of this size and the amount of capital that will need to be invested, van Melle said there will be complications that come along.
“We’d be remiss to think that we’re not going to find anything along the way. But given the two teams that we have working on it, we’ll hopefully find ways to surmount anything that is thrown at us,” said van Melle.
Housing for staff is not currently a concern for the joint venture as they are hoping to hire people that already live in the area.
“My hope would be that the people that are there have homes and housing. The actual site itself isn’t that far away from the actual communities in Crowsnest Pass, the commute is pretty easy,” said van Melle.
With a peak of approximately 200 jobs during construction, the project will have around 30 full-time positions when the operation phase of the facility begins.
“This will result in a permanent sterilization and abandonment of open cut coal mining or any coal mining at Tent Mountain,” said Doyle, “At the moment, we have no ambition to mine coal in the Crowsnest Pass because we’re not allowed to.”
With the mine sterilized, the site will provide a “very clean and reliable” source of power to the consumers in Alberta.
More information on the project merger is available at transalta.com/newsroom/transalta-announces-acquisition-of-50-interest-in-early-stage-pumped-hydro-energy-storage-development-project and the project itself at tentmountain-rex.com.