New Brunswick Power will release a request for expressions of interest for wind energy proposals this summer, part of the east coast utility's newly announced plan to buy up to 400 MW of wind from private sector producers over the next ten years. The announcement came just days after the province unveiled a target that will see an additional 10% of electricity consumption in New Brunswick from renewable sources by 2016. The utility's planned wind purchases, says the company's Pamela McKay, will allow it to meet the government's goal. "We're planning to acquire that wind at a rate of about 40 MW per year, on average. That works out to be about one percent of our annual energy requirement." NB Power hopes to select a bid winner and finalise a power purchase contract by the end of the year. It is looking for projects that are geographically dispersed in five regions that wind mapping and data supplied by developers indicate have the most promising wind resources. Climate change, economic development and the rising cost of the fossil fuels that power much of New Brunswick's generating capacity are driving the government's interest in renewables, says energy minister Bruce Fitch. The province currently has 1108 MW of oil-fired generation, 327 MW of diesel, 515 MW of coal and 300 MW of orimulsion, a bitumen-based fuel manufactured in Venezuela. It also has 635 MW of nuclear, 884 MW of hydro and small amounts of biomass. "The increase in the price of hydrocarbons in the last year or so has really pushed everyone to the reality that if we don't get on this bandwagon now, the situation is probably not going to get much better," says Fitch.
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