Ontario Hydro has issued a request for proposals soliciting bids for renewable energy plant. A large proportion of this is reserved for wind energy. Hydro is also financially supporting the "cold climate" wind generator project developed by Tacke Windtechnik of Germany and intends to gradually exchange more fossil and nuclear generated capacity for wind power and other types of renewables.

Canadian utility Ontario Hydro will issue a request for proposals (RFP) next year soliciting competitive bids for 100 MW installed capacity of renewable energy technology (RET) for 1995-1999. Delivered power would total some 25 MW. "A significant proportion" of this short-term Green RFP will be reserved for wind energy, says Brian Kelly, Hydro's director of environment and sustainable development.

The wind set-aside may embrace a 5-10 MW wind farm proposed by Canadian Agra Corp on company land on Lake Huron, near Kincardine in southern Ontario. RETs are defined as technologies using energy resources that are replenishable in Ontario over the time of their use, including wind (turbines and pumps), solar, wood and biomass, small hydro and others.

"Major opportunities" are anticipated for wind turbines particularly in off-grid communities. The Ontario Energy Corporation is encouraging some of these developments in First Nation communities of northern Ontario. Customers in regions of Hydro's "local integrated resource plans" will also be specifically encouraged to install wind turbines and other RETs to reduce their own loads. Owners of RETs rated under 50 kW will be permitted to "run the meter backwards," getting the advantage of the retail rate for their RET's power. Such "net energy billing," already underway in Minnesota, would apply to farm sized wind generators in particular. However, wheeling of RET power on the grid to other areas has been deferred, until Hydro lifts its 1993 freeze on new system wheeling.

Kelly, speaking at last month's Canadian Wind Energy Association conference, announced further that Hydro will provide financing in principle for the 600 kW "cold climate" wind generator now being developed in Ontario from the German Tacke design at a cost of $1.3 million. Natural Resources Canada is a co-sponsor of the project (Windpower Monthly, September 1994). The turbine will be sited at Canadian Agra. After the first year of Tacke 600 tests, Hydro would choose from three options: a power purchase agreement in the RETs programme; purchase of the turbine and operation by utility personnel; or purchase of equity in Tacke Windpower, the Ontario arm of Tacke Windtechnik of Germany, which is building the turbine.

The "short term value" of power production to Hydro's system now stands at about CAD$0.02/kWh. In 1995-1999, Hydro considers RETs cost effective for in-house, off grid applications, and remote community applications. Operating experience gained will facilitate larger scale RETs adoption after 2000. Kelly estimates total annual funding for the RETs programme at $37 million in 1997-1999, with an impact of 0.35% or less on utility rates.

After 2000, Hydro envisages commercialisation of advanced, grid-connected RETs and their "full integration as a major source of supply." Installation would rise to 200 MW of RETs annually, producing 20 TWh annually by 2020 from 3600 MW (excluding utility-owned hydroelectric). There would be "full business development and export benefits." Hydro's overall 1994 load is about 137 TWh.

Hydro currently reports a surplus of 10,000 MW (33,000 capacity minus 23,000 peak load) and a $34 billion debt. The public utility has thus begun to shed fossil and nuclear generating capacity from its system, including the Bruce 2 nuclear unit scheduled for lay-up in June 1995. Kelly made clear that after the surplus shrinks, Hydro intends to position wind power and other RETs as "commercial supply technologies with competitive costs and low environmental impacts enabling incorporation of dispersed, decentralised facilities."