The term of any resulting contracts will depend on the price, says the utility's Bob Johnson. "We'd love to have the power as soon as possible, but we recognise it will probably be early 2004 before we see it," he says. "People may still need to do an appropriate amount of wind testing on the sites they've identified." A year ago the utility issued a request for expressions of interest for development of 50 MW. While the new RFP is for less power than the original notification, admits Johnson, it is still substantial. "When you look at what else is going across the country, it is one of the most significant wind power initiatives that any utility has taken."
Nova Scotia Power, adds Johnson, has decided it wants to take a closer look at other green power possibilities in the province, including small hydro, wood waste biomass and biogas. The utility is also considering developing its own wind facilities, says Johnson. It is currently consulting with three communities on the siting of two 600 kW wind turbines and may do even more. "We have plans for testing in a few areas to see if there is any viability there."
Out of the 23 responses it received to last year's request, the utility chose a group of eight large scale developers to work with. While Johnson will not say how many companies received the recent invitation to bid, he did say that "all the key players in the first go-round are included." He says he has not received any negative feedback from the proponents about the utility's decision to decrease the amount of wind it is seeking. "We're big enough here that it's going to keep everybody's interest."
Johnson believes Nova Scotia Power's new approach is "totally aligned" with the province's recently released energy strategy. The new policy sets a short term voluntary renewables target for new independent power generation of 2.5% of the monopoly utility's current generation capacity, or about 50 MW. After monitoring that effort for three years, the government and Nova Scotia Power will look at establishing a mandatory renewables portfolio standard.
"Recognising the target is voluntary and recognising there's a three year period to see how renewable energy develops, we feel we are approaching this in the most prudent way," he explains.