New Brunswick Power has issued a request for expressions of interest for new wind power capacity, asking producers to submit plans to develop, own and operate up to 400 MW of projects. "This is an important day for the energy sector of New Brunswick," says energy minister Bruce Fitch. "We will continue to move forward in adding more clean energy to our system and at the same time add more diversity to our generation mix." Besides the obvious environmental benefits of wind power, recent hikes in the price of fossil fuels have made the technology "more important than ever," says Fitch. In addition to hydro, nuclear and biomass generation, New Brunswick currently has 1108 MW of oil fired generation and 327 MW of diesel, along with 515 MW of coal and 300 MW of orimulsion, bitumen-based fuel manufactured in Venezuela. It has signed a power purchase agreement with Eastern Wind Power for a 20 MW wind project to be installed in 2006. The utility wants the 400 MW in place by 2016. It is looking for projects that are geographically dispersed in five regions that wind mapping and data supplied by developers indicate have the most promising resources. The province is also working on a plan to make government-owned lands available for wind development.