Peigan project struggling

The installation in Canada of a 1 MW wind turbine on the Peigan First Nation reserve in Alberta, planned for this month, has been delayed until early 1999. The setback is due to financial issues surrounding a proposal for a 101 MW Peigan wind project, worth C$200 million, that have arisen between the Peigan First Nation and the federal government (Windpower Monthly, November 1998). The 1 MW turbine, a test unit, is being supplied by Nordex Balcke-Dürr of Germany.

An ad hoc committee to hammer out the issues will be formed in Ottawa, drawing from from several government departments: Indian & Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Natural Resources Canada, which drives the federal green power procurement effort; Revenue Canada, an information resource on the tax benefits available to Canadian wind farm developers, and Finance Canada. The committee will be chaired by Art Hay of INAC.

"Canada has a special relationship to aboriginal people," Hay explains, referring to the First Nation communities. The federal government requires its departments and agencies to buy goods and services offered by Native American business firms whenever possible. The Federal Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business sets aside for competition among qualified Aboriginal businesses all contracts of C$5,000 and above that serve a primarily Aboriginal population.

The Peigan Nation hopes to learn more about how to take full advantage of the potential accessible through the ad hoc committee, says project co-ordinator William Big Bull. He is hoping the group will identify federal departments and agencies that might buy power from the wind farm -- especially in its early phase -- as well as how the Peigans can qualify for special tax benefits.