United States

United States

Canadian wind sees opportunities in north-east US

UNITED STATES: Massachusetts has issued its much-anticipated request for proposals (RFP) for 9.45GWh a year of clean energy.

Emera's proposed Atlantic Link would transmit power from New Brunswick to Massachusetts
Emera's proposed Atlantic Link would transmit power from New Brunswick to Massachusetts

The solicitation is pushing wind energy developers, hydro producers and transmission companies to work together to find ways to deliver the resources the state wants in the quantity it needs.

Proposals are due on 27 July, with the state and investor-owned utilities ready to accept bids offering hydrolectricity, new renewable energy capacity, or new renewables firmed by hydro as they look to replace retiring generation assets and meet the state’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020.

The amount of power the RFP is seeking is equivalent to more than 3GW of wind. But for wind energy to be successful, a way past the grid bottlenecks that have stymied development in the US north-east will be key.

There are a number of transmission projects on the books designed to bring wind output from projects in northern Maine and upper New York state to market, But with large hydro in play, the Massachusetts RFP could also open up opportunities for wind energy exports from Canada.

There are at least five proposals in the works for major transmission lines designed to bring hydropower from Quebec and Atlantic Canada to New England. At least two are incorporating Canadian wind projects into their plans in order to qualify for lucrative renewable energy credits.

A potential stumbling block for the Canadian industry could lie in Donald Trump’s protectionist "America First" agenda. But Jean-Francois Nolet, vice president of policy and communications at the Canadian Wind Energy Association, does not expect this to be an issue.

Trump recently signed-off a presidential permit for the controversial XL pipeline, which will carry bitumen from the oil sands in Alberta to refineries on the US Gulf Coast.

Nolet expects the same treatment for transmission projects that would transport electricity from Canada to the US. "It is a good deal for Americans," he said. "Cheap Canadian electricity for their businesses and industry, and creating jobs in the US. That’s a win-win."

What it may do, though, is force Canadian project proponents to make sure they articulate the benefits of what they have to offer.

"As Canadians, we need to focus on what’s in it for them," said Nolet

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