Canada

Canada

Province set to be big wind exporter -- Request for proposals

The government of Prince Edward Island is to issue a request for proposals (RFP) this month for 300 MW of wind power for export and says it will also work with distribution utilities on a plan to raise its renewable energy mandate to 30% wind by 2013.

The two initiatives will boost installed wind capacity in Prince Edward Island (PEI) to 500 MW within five years, a big number for a province with an average demand of 160 MW. The island province currently has just over 72 MW of wind plant running, with another 79 MW nearing completion. Of that, power from 90 MW will be exported into New England and the rest will supply about 18% of PEI's electricity consumption.

"There is a strong and growing demand for clean energy, particularly in the New England market and Prince Edward Island is well positioned to meet some of that demand," says Premier Robert Ghiz. The C$1 billion undertaking will be the largest development in the island province since the construction of the 12.9 kilometre Confederation Bridge in the mid-1990s, which links PEI to New Brunswick on the mainland.

Wind projects being developed to export their power will be split into two stages, with the first 100 MW to be on line in 2011. That will use up available capacity on the two cables under the Northumberland Strait that link PEI with New Brunswick's power grid.

The remaining 200 MW will be "approved in principle" until a new link across the Confederation Bridge, which has a hollow core structure to house electricity cables, is built. The projects are targeted for commercial operation in 2013. The intention is for the C$95 million cable to be built by a public-private partnership involving the provincial and federal government, private developers and Maritime Electric, which operates PEI's transmission system.

January deadline

A January deadline was expected to be set for proposals to provide the 300 MW of wind, with the winner to be announced in April. Private sector wind developers have shown interest in developing about 2000 MW of projects on the island to date.

The RFP, says the government, will outline a revenue sharing model designed to ensure the province shares in the benefits of a wind energy resource with an average annual capacity factor of 40%. "The planned model is that a base amount will be prescribed and developers will bid on the amount they are prepared to pay above this amount," it says.

The plan to increase PEI's domestic use of wind power will require installation of another 50 MW by the government-owned PEI Energy Corporation. Right now, about 63% of PEI's electricity is generated from fossil fuels and island residents have seen electricity prices jump 60% since the beginning of the decade. Energy minister George Webster says price stability, less dependence on imported power and reduced emissions are the main drivers for the 30% mandate.

"Except for Canada's north, Prince Edward Island is the area of this country most vulnerable to climate change. Our soils are easily eroded and vulnerable to rising waters in coastal areas," he warns.

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