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The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded $25,000 each to three of the state's wind companies that could lead to projects in Chile, Greece and India totalling as much as 192 MW. The grants were awarded under the CEC's Energy Technology Export Program, which requires wind developers to provide at least half of the total cost of feasibility study work. The programme has been in operation since 1988 and was designed to offset the advantage of Japanese and European firms when it comes to government assistance in fostering new markets for independent power

Zond Systems is to undertake technical and wind resource assessment in the Norte de Grande region of Chile. According to the firm's Jean Pierre Bourgeacq, the funds will investigate the feasibility of a 17 MW project which could be greatly expanded in the future. "As we get the green light [from the CEC], the on-site work will start," he says. The output of the project will be sold "either to a utility or directly to an end-user." The CEC claims the output will be sold to CODELCO, a government entity which controls copper mining in Chile

Walker Development Company, based in Sacramento, also received $25,000 to study the resource on five Greek Islands: Evia, Andros, Tinos, Syros and Mykonos. The firm is headed by Jim Walker who also represents Southern California Edison independent power affiliate, Mission Energy. Walker has previously received support from the CEC for a feasibility study for 25 MW of wind on the island of Crete. The most recent grant could lead to as much as 150 MW of wind capacity. The rate of pay for wind power on Crete, since the island is not connected to the national grid, is 90% of the retail rate. The rates paid to private developers for the other five islands is somewhat lower, but still attractive, he says. Walker would likely use Zond's Z-40 turbines. Plans are for sites on all six islands to be bought by next year

The third company to win CEC backing is Lancaster based Optimum Power Corporation for development of a 25 MW wind project in India which would sell its output to the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board. The company, started last year, already has a 25 MW power purchase contract with the Kerala State Electricity Board. The company is focused exclusively on developing projects in India. Mel Weger, vice president of the firm, notes that a decision on turbine types has not yet been made. "We are currently seeking a joint venture partner," he says.

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