New partners proposed
The developer is a limited partnership established in 1994 by Kenetech Limited of San Francisco and the Axor Corporation, a prominent Quebec engineering company. Axor bought into it on a 50-50 equity basis after Kenetech Limited agreed power purchase contracts with Hydro Quebec in late 1993. Murphy says these contracts are "unrelated" to Kentech's financial crisis. Like Kenetech Windpower, Kenetech Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kenetech Corporation. The corporation has only sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for Kenetech Windpower.
From Kenetech Windpower's Montreal office, Richard Legault admits the bankruptcy filing could have an impact on the Gaspe projects, but adds the Chapter 11 proceeding is neither a failure nor a liquidation of the company, but rather a reorganisation. Legault says he is confident Kenetech could overcome the difficulty by bringing in new partners to help finance the Gaspe project.
Hydro's Murphy says construction is to start by March 31, 1997. If Kenetech Limited fails to meet this deadline, then "it will be a different ball game," she adds.
According to an environmental impact statement (EIS) submitted by the Kenetech-Axor partnership, the project will comprise 200 of Kenetech's KVS-45 variable speed 520 kW wind turbines. Kenetech had originally planned to use 300 of its KVS-33 405 kW units. Citizens were entitled to comment on the EIS until June 13, after which Quebec's environment minister was expected to determine if public hearings must be called.
Hydro Quebec has also contracted with a differently named Kenetech-Axor Limited Partnership for a 6 MW wind farm on Quebec's Magdalen Islands in the St. Lawrence Gulf. Murphy did not comment on the status of this project.
The existing 18.9 MW wind farm of Kenetech turbines at Cowley Ridge, in Alberta, owned by Canadian Niagara Power Corp but run by Kenetech Canadian Operations Inc, is apparently not affected by the bankruptcy. Kenetech's wind plant supervisor Gavin Lowe says the project will continue to meet its long term power supply contract.