Ontario announces tender winners -- Wind contracts for 955 MW

Wind power projects dominate the list of winners in the Ontario government's call for 1000 MW of renewable energy capacity. The province announced in late November that it would buy the output of eight wind projects with a combined capacity of 955 MW, bringing its total purchases of wind power over the last 12 months to slightly more than 1300 MW. A ninth project, a 20 MW run-of-river hydroelectric facility, was also selected.

The winning bidders have signed 20 year power purchase agreements with the Ontario Power Authority at a weighted average price of C$0.086/kWh. Together, the projects represent an estimated investment of C$2 billion. They are all located close to Ontario's borders with the Great Lakes.

More Bids

The government issued the request for proposals in April and received 22 bids for a total of 2029 MW in response. The results of another request for proposals (RFP) for 200 MW of renewable energy projects less than 20 MW in size are expected in the spring.

"The response to this RFP shows just how much potential this province has for renewable energy," says energy minister Donna Cansfield. "With such good proposals to choose from, we can ensure the most viable, cost-effective projects for Ontario's electricity consumers." This latest purchase, she says, puts Ontario on track to meeting its target of 2700 MW of renewables by 2010.

It also positions the province to become Canada's wind energy leader by 2008, says Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. "CanWEA believes that wind energy can help Ontario exceed its renewable energy targets and we feel today's announcement is a very important step towards our objective of 6000 MW of wind energy in Ontario in 2015."

Three of the winning wind projects are expansions of facilities now under construction after being selected in an earlier renewables RFP. Alberta's Canadian Hydro Developers, a veteran wind power producer, will nearly triple the size of its 67.5 MW Melancthon project, expected to reach commercial operation near the community of Shelburne early next year, with the addition of the newly contracted 132 MW Melancthon II project. Construction of the C$265 million second phase, consisting of 88 GE Energy 1.5 MW turbines, is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by spring 2007.

Canadian Hydro will also build the largest of the winning wind farms, the 197.8 MW Wolfe Island Wind Project on Lake Ontario. The C$410 million project will use 86 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines, marking the entrance of wind turbines from Siemens Power Generation into the Canadian market. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2007, with completion by October 2008. Canadian Hydro and two partners will also build the lone hydro project selected.

Very exciting

The three projects, says CEO John Keating, will bring the power producer's investment in new green generation to more than C$1 billion since 2001. "It's a day like no other in our history," says Keating. "It's all very exciting for us, just seeing that much activity within our company." The projects, he adds, were "on the high side" of the RFP's average winning price. "So we feel as a result we haven't left anything on the table."

Another expansion project is Kingsbridge II, a 158.7 MW bid by Alberta company Epcor. The C$300 million plant is to be built next to Epcor's 39.6 MW Kingsbridge I wind farm, which is slated for completion by spring 2006. Construction of Kingsbridge II, to use between 55 and 70 wind turbines, will begin in late 2006 or early 2007. A turbine supplier will be finalised shortly. "Kingsbridge strengthens Epcor's power generation portfolio, which is based on a diverse mix of fuels and investment in new technologies, including conventional and renewable energy sources," says CEO Don Lowry.

The third expansion is of Brascan Power Corporation's 99 MW Prince Phase I Wind Energy Project, currently under construction northwest of Sault Ste Marie and slated for completion in fall, 2006. The 90 MW Prince Phase II Wind Energy Project will also be built by Brascan, an Ontario company, using 60 GE Energy 1.5 MW wind turbines, beginning in the first half of next year.

Two major players in Canada's petroleum industry also increased their presence in the country's wind sector through the Ontario RFP. Alberta-based Enbridge Inc, which operates the world's longest crude oil pipeline system and Canada's largest natural gas distribution company, got the nod for its 100.65 MW Leader Wind Project A and 99 MW Leader Wind Project B, both to be built mid-2006 on the eastern shore of Lake Huron near the community of Kincardine, with commissioning set for the end of the year. The projects, with a combined price tag of C$400 million, will use 121 Vestas V82 1.65 MW wind turbines. Enbridge already owns shares in three wind projects in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Suncor Energy of Alberta, an oil and gas producer, will partner with Spain's Acciona Energia on development of the 76 MW Ripley Wind Power Project east of Lake Huron. Construction of the C$165 million project, which will consist of 38 as yet unidentified turbines, will begin in the fall with commissioning set for fall 2007. Suncor is a part owner of three wind farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while Acciona holds a one-third interest in two of them. "Expanding Suncor's wind energy program into Ontario is a key step in our journey to becoming a sustainable energy company," says the company's Dave Byler.

The list of RFP winners also includes a newcomer to Canada's wind industry. Kruger Energy, a division of Montreal-based pulp and paper giant Kruger Inc. It will build the 101.2 MW Port Alma wind farm on the north shore of Lake Erie. Kruger currently owns and operates hydroelectric and biomass generation.