Industry newcomer wins bid -- Newfoundland first

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Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (NLH) has chosen the NeWind Group, a newcomer to Canada's wind industry, to build the province's first wind farm. NeWind responded to a request for proposals issued by NLH late last year. The company will first conduct a feasibility study, to be completed within 15 months. Based on the results, NLH will decide whether to negotiate a power purchase agreement with NeWind for a wind farm with an installed capacity of between 5 MW and 25 MW.

NeWind is a consortium led by CHI Hydroelectric Company, a subsidiary of CHI Canada, which itself is a subsidiary of CHI Energy, a Connecticut-based renewable energy developer with 30 MW of wind power under development in Minnesota. The group also includes Quadratec Inc and Fga Consulting Engineers Limited, two Newfoundland-based firms with expertise in electrical and structural engineering, respectively.

The combination, says CHI Canada vice-president Philippe Jünger, gives NeWind a "sound engineering resource base" on which to develop wind energy in Newfoundland. The East Coast island poses some serious climactic challenges, including icing, foggy conditions, low cloud cover and winds that gust to 160 km/h in some places. Jünger says he expects the area's first wind farm will probably end up at the upper end of the 5-25 MW size range.

NeWind will bear the full costs of the feasibility study, which Jünger estimates will require a minimum investment of C$150,000. "This is the demonstration of our confidence that Newfoundland is a prime location for wind power, our confidence also that we will be able to obtain good data and demonstrate that a project is feasible," he says.

While the Newfoundland project is CHI's first foray into Canada's wind power industry, it likely will not be its last. CHI Canada is looking at opportunities across the country and may pursue them alone or as part of NeWind, says Jünger. "We definitely have a lot of confidence in the wind potential in Canada. We have yet to see the incentives to make it grow."

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