"The recent filing for electricity rate increases is a sober reminder of how vulnerable we are to global oil prices. By adding clean energy from wind to the mix, we will be able to offer greater stability for rates in the future, because we become less dependent on the uncontrollable price of foreign oil and coal," says Keir. "Wind generation is also immune to the potential greenhouse gas regulatory costs that other forms of generation may face."
NBP recently filed an application with the province's Energy and Utilities Board for a 9.6% rate increase for 2007-08, blaming skyrocketing fuel costs as the prime reason for the hike. New Brunswick currently has close to 4000 MW of generation, about 60% of which is fossil fuel based. The province currently has no installed wind energy capacity, although NBP signed contracts earlier this year with two developers for projects totalling 96 MW. Its original plan was to have 400 MW of wind on its system by 2016.
Bids in the wind RFP are due July 31 and will be evaluated not only on price, the schedule for development, yearly production and the developer's experience, but also on the project's New Brunswick content. "Adding New Brunswick content to the request for proposals is extremely important as it will help foster greater economic development here at home and create more job opportunities for New Brunswickers," says Keir.
The utility is looking for two separate prices for projects, one factoring in costs developers would face if they sourced development, engineering, site work, manufacturing, and post-construction services from within the province beyond what they would "in the normal course of business," and another outlining costs without the added New Brunswick content. NBP will then identify the options for each set of proposals and perform an economic analysis to finalise its overall plan.
Another factor in the utility's decision will be the geographic dispersion of projects. It has identified five areas of the province where it would like to see projects built. "This will allow NB Power to purchase wind energy from wind generators in areas experiencing high winds at times when wind in other areas of the province may be too low to generate any electricity from a single site," the utility says. The maximum capacity of any proposal must not exceed 100 MW at any one location, the RFP says.