Developer rush to meet utility need

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Nova Scotia Power has signed contracts with two more wind power developers to bring its total purchases so far this year to 184 MW and counting. The utility issued a request for proposals (RFP) last year and announced in November it was negotiating contracts for 240 MW of projects, enough to increase the province's wind power production by 500% between now and 2010. "We are implementing a business strategy that will take us to a cleaner, greener future," says Ralph Tedesco, CEO of the mainly fossil fuel fired utility.

The largest of the new contracts is with Halifax-based Shear Wind, which will build 60 MW on 2420 hectares near Merigomish on the province's north coast. The C$150 million Glen Dhu wind farm will use Enercon 2 MW turbines and is expected in service by November 2009. The project site is adjacent to two existing 235 kV transmission lines as well as a 138 kV line and can support a second phase of 170 MW. "This positions the Glen Dhu Wind Park in an optimal position to participate in export opportunities as well as future requests for proposals," says Shear Wind CEO Michael Magnus. In fact, he says, the company has already applied for certification to export electricity into Massachusetts and Connecticut from Glen Dhu.

Shear Wind has invested in building out its project pipeline over the past 24 months. "It's a great moment to see the first of these projects come to fruition," says Magnus. The company has a portfolio of nine projects with a total capacity of more than 1500 MW that Magnus describes as "strategically positioned" to access to both domestic and Northeast US markets. The projects are located in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Nova Scotia Power has also signed a long term agreement with RMSenergy, also based in the province, for the output of two projects with a combined capacity of 57 MW. The 51 MW Dalhousie Mountain project, 25 kilometres west of the northern Nova Scotia town of New Glasgow, will use 34 GE Energy turbines. The second project, a 6 MW facility near Antigonish in the province's northeast, will use four German-made Vensys 1.5 MW machines.

RMSenergy president Reuben Burge, who grew up in the area, says supply agreements are in place with both manufacturers and deliveries are scheduled for fall 2009. He expects to have both projects up and operating by the end of the year. As a small developer, says Burge, getting the attention of turbine makers and financiers means setting the projects on a solid foundation. He has nearly four years of monitoring data at Dalhousie and has completed enough of the environmental permitting and study process to have a good sense of where the project stands. "With that I was able to join with some very strong financial partners and that enabled the turbine supplier to take us seriously. They knew we had a project that was potentially one that could win an RFP."

Nova Scotia Power has also signed power purchase agreements with Toronto-based EarthFirst Canada for 45 MW and with Nova Scotia's Renewable Energy Services for 22 MW.

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