New Brunswick wants community scale wind power too

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The government of New Brunswick has launched consultations on how communities, First Nations and local ventures can get involved in the development of small scale wind power projects in the province. "The initiative is one which will allow communities and first nations groups the opportunity to compete in a market that is not dominated by larger wind projects," says energy minister Jack Keir. It is an important next step in ensuring the province can take advantage of its wind energy resources, he adds. "The first step was to get the private sector large wind farm investments in. That certainly gets wind generation quickly into the province. I think the long term solution, though, is to get the communities involved. We have to put a model in place that is going to allow wind energy to be an advantage for a municipality or a town or a village in New Brunswick." Yves Gagnon, the KC Irving Chair of Sustainable Development at Université de Moncton, will lead the consultations and prepare recommendations for the government. Keir declines to speculate on what the options might be. "I am not going to step all over a process that we've paid to have done. But certainly there are models around. I'm sure they are going to be taking a look at what has been done in Ontario and Quebec and other places to determine what their model looks like. But what we want to do at the end of the day is make sure we come up with something that works for New Brunswick." Ontario has implemented a program that offers fixed-priced standard offer contracts for power produced from renewable energy plant up to 10 MW in size and connected the electricity grid at the level of the distribution network. Quebec has plans to issue two 250 MW calls for tender this spring aimed at attracting proposals from municipalities and First Nations groups.

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