The history of the Sheerness generating plant started in the early 1970s, when Alberta's electric utilities were looking for new sources of power to serve the province's rapidly growing load. By 1975, Alberta Power's studies had established that the Hanna area would support two 375 megawatt generating units.
The lengthy approval process culminated in formal approval by the provincial cabinet in 1979, and construction on the $1 billion project began in the early 1980s. Meanwhile, Trans-Alta Utilities and Alberta Power had entered into an agreement to become c0-owners of the generating station. In January, 1986, the plant's first unit went into operation, burning coal to produce power.
Early settlers in the Hanna area have known about the Horseshoe Canyon coal for more than 60 years, but until the Sheerness plant was built, very little coal was mined from the area. A few enterprising homesteaders opened surface veins with pick-axes to provide domestic fuel, and in 1912 a small mine was opened to serve the farmers in the area.
Sheerness is not the first plant to generate electricity in Hanna. In 1927, Union Power of Drumheller acquired a small generating plant and franchise in Hanna. Shortly afterwards, a transmission line was extended to Hanna and the old plant placed on standby duty.
Union power merged with Canadian utilities parent company of today's Alberta Power - in 1935. Over the years, electricity has been brought into Hanna from the growing provincial grid. Today, Sheerness sends electricity out through that grid to customers across Alberta.
Text courtesy of The Hanna Herald