Seeking more wind power in New Brunswick

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New Brunswick Power is considering stepping up efforts to add wind power to its mix after awarding a power purchase agreement (PPA) to Vector Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Developers, for up to 21 MW of wind power from its Fairfield Hill project. The contract is the second to be signed since the government-owned utility announced last year that it would acquire 200 MW of wind capacity by 2009, an interim step on its way to the provincial government's target of 400 MW by 2016 (Windpower Monthly, February 2007). With its purchases so far sitting at 96 MW, says the utility's Michel Losier, it is still in the process of reviewing bids from the original request for proposals (RFP). But at the same time it is in talks with the province's energy ministry about a second RFP to get more wind on the grid sooner. "We have been in discussions about ramping up. We had talked about 400 MW by 2016, but we are looking at being a little bit more aggressive on that program and perhaps moving it forward a little more. The timing has not been decided yet," Losier explains. Both the government and the utility see wind as a healthy and increasingly competitive complement to the province's electricity supply portfolio, says Losier. "We see it as the right way to go in the future. It definitely has a place in our energy mix." Canadian Hydro CEO John Keating says the company has not settled on a turbine choice for Fairfield Hill, which is located in the south-eastern part of the province. Under the terms of the PPA, the company has the option of building anywhere from 16.5 MW to 21 MW on the site and of extending the 20 year contract by five years if it chooses. The project must be on line by the end of 2008.

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