Tender set to put British Columbia on wind energy map

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BC Hydro has issued an all-source request for new electricity supply that may finally put the west coast province of British Columbia (BC) on Canada's wind energy map. The terms of the call, released December 8, are the result of months of stakeholder consultation that helped make the government-owned utility's plans more wind friendly, says Eugene Hodgson, speaking for the BC Wind Energy Association. He is vice-president of Vancouver's Sea Breeze Power Corp. "Wind was not on the radar screen two years ago. In the last year, particularly, things have come a long way here in terms of acceptance and understanding of its potential." The energy ministry's Janice Larson agrees: "There will be some, I think everyone will agree, better opportunities for wind energy than there has perhaps been in the past." The call is open to all generation technologies, except nuclear. The utility is seeking 2500 GWh a year of firm energy, which producers can opt to balance on a monthly basis, and associated non-firm energy from projects larger than 10 MW. At least two-thirds of the firm energy must be delivered during the winter months, giving wind an advantage over summer peaking fuels like small hydro, which has dominated past calls in British Columbia. When evaluating bids, BC Hydro will assign a C$3/MWh credit for green power. Wind producers would have preferred to calculate firm energy deliveries on an annual basis, says Hodgson, but "we're willing to live with" the month-to-month requirement. BC Hydro is also seeking 200 GWh a year from projects less than 10 MW, a limit the wind industry is unhappy with. "If you can't do more than 10 MW, you can't get any economies of scale. You can't really build a project and include transmission and everything else for that size of project," says Hodgson. Bids are due April 7 and the announcement of winners in August. BC is one of two Canadian provinces without any utility-scale wind generation.

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