Developer crosses the border

One of the biggest players in the US wind power sector is moving into Canada, hoping to tap into the industry's growing traction north of the border and smooth out some of the bumps in a home market driven by the on-again, off-again production tax credit. PPM Energy, based in Oregon, announced last month it plans to expand its wind development activities to Canada through its affiliate, Calgary-based PPM Energy Canada.

"At PPM, we see Canada as a way to diversify," says the company's Jan Johnson. "That is really important to us, given the stop and start nature of the US wind energy market." Another factor in PPM's decision, she says, is the fact that the renewable energy market is gaining momentum in Canada, mainly due to supportive governments and requests for proposals (RFPs) from utility companies.

The company expects its initial focus will be on Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba. "We see some real wind potential in those particular provinces," says Johnson. "Of course, the potential is dependent on a number of factors, including the rate that utilities issue these RFPs. But we do expect to see Canada add new wind capacity at a rate of about 1000 MW per year, and this is where we see it happening."

PPM plans to take much the same approach to building its project pipeline in Canada as it has in the US, including creating partnerships with other companies, acquiring developers, and doing its own greenfield work. "There are a number of routes for entering the Canadian market," says Johnson. "We will be seeking the route that creates the most value for PPM in the long run, so it is hard to say which strategy will be the one that is the most likely."

PPM has no specific target for Canadian installations or timeline for its first project. The company has nearly 2000 MW of wind either operating or under construction in the US and has set a goal of at least 3500 MW by 2010. Assuming the utility RFPs materialise as expected, says Johnson, PPM expects Canada to be "an important contributor" to that objective.

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