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Canada

Emissions reduction goal sparks action -- Utility requests wind

The utility of New Brunswick is putting the Atlantic province on Canada's wind power production map with a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 20 MW of wind generated electricity, the first phase of its plan to acquire 100 MW from renewable energy projects by 2010. "We expect that 100 MW to come from wind," says New Brunswick Power's Jeffrey Carleton, pointing to wind's improving economics and the federal government wind power production incentive as reasons why the technology has the competitive edge. Private developers have also put some effort into investigating the province's wind resource.

Fast and big

Proposals are due April 23, with projects expected to be up and operating no later than March 2006. The utility, however, will be looking for projects that can come online earlier, says Carleton. It is also interested in hearing from developers who want to build more than 20 MW. "If a company wants to build a larger wind facility, we're certainly going to take a look at that."

Although New Brunswick Power has one of the most diverse generation portfolios in North America, with 3759 MW of coal, oil, gas, nuclear, hydro and ore emulsion generation feeding a peak demand of 3089 MW, this is its first foray into wind. Driving the utility's interest in adding wind to the mix is the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says Carleton. Not only has Canada ratified the Kyoto Accord, but New Brunswick is also a signatory to a regional agreement between New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and 10% below 1990 by 2020.

Portfolio standard

About 47%, or 9.3 megatonnes, of the province's greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation, and the government is looking to renewable energy to help bring that figure down. New Brunswick's new Electricity Act, passed last spring, promises regulation for a minimum standard of renewables in supply portfolios. Consultations about what the renewables portfolio standard will look like are ongoing.

With electricity demand increasing at a higher than expected 1.2% a year, the utility is also facing a generation shortfall by 2007. "Wind is not necessarily going to be the major response, but certainly if you can add 20, up to 100 MW of generation, that would be helpful," says Carleton.

New Brunswick Power plans to develop a premium priced green power program for its 350,000 customers. Some of the output from the first phase of development could go to satisfying the utility's long standing memorandum of understanding with the federal government, which wants to buy green energy for its facilities in the province. "We're in discussions with the federal government over how much it would pay for this wind energy. But we certainly didn't want to delay the RFP side of the process while those negotiations took place," says Carleton.

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