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Wind Wire: Completion nears

The biggest wind power facility yet built in France will be completed this month when the last of the 70 Enercon 2 MW turbines are hooked up to the grid at Fruges, in the northerly departement of Pas-de-Calais.

The plant, developed and built by Ostwind International, the French subsidiary of Germany's Ostwind, was supposed to be completed last year, but was hit by delays in both turbine delivery and grid operator RTE's completion of the connection. The project has had a chequered history, starting off at 150 MW, then expanding to 234 MW before being trimmed back to its current size of 140 MW. Ostwind retains ownership of 32 MW, while Infigen Energy (formerly Babcock & Brown Wind Partners) now holds 84 MW and NGE Energie, part of French construction company Groupe NGE, owns 18 MW. The remaining 6 MW belongs to unnamed private investors. German firm Conergy will operate the plant on behalf of all the owners. Ostwind International is due to commission a 10 MW facility at St-Jacques de Nehou on the English Channel, this month, also using Enercon 2 MW machines. The company has a further 50 MW permitted in France and reports a development pipeline of around 500 MW, of which 100 MW is at an advanced stage.

A local businessman in Corsica has been sentenced to three years in prison, with two suspended, and fined EUR100,000 for misappropriating nearly EUR1 million during the construction of wind plant at Cap Corse by Siif Energies, a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), the renewables arm of energy giant EDF. According to French press reports, Andre Allegre, the owner of the consultancy responsible for the financial planning of the plant and the selection of local companies to carry out the work, siphoned off nearly 10% of the cost of the turbines (EUR15.4 million) by overcharging or charging for work not carried out. At one point the judge suspected Allegre of using the money to finance Corsican armed independence groups, though this was not proved. According to the press, however, a Siif Energies engineer told the court that the cost was exaggerated so that "things went well ..., that there were no attacks or problems and that the work progressed normally." EDF EN owns the plant in question, which is made up of 20 Nordex 600 kW turbines that came into service in 2000.

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