Island project makes it onto shortlist -- Could be BC's first

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A 50 MW wind project has made the cut in BC Hydro's latest call for 800 GWh of green power. The Canadian utility pared down a list of 70 proposals to 30 projects that will be invited to submit priced bids by the end of August. Contracts with winners are due for signing by the end of the year and projects must be online by the end of September 2006.

While three wind projects were among the original 70 proposals (Windpower Monthly, March 2003), only Vancouver's Stothert Power Corporation managed to make it through the qualification process to the next stage. The company, new to the wind business, has partnered with California's Global Renewable Energy Partners on a 50 MW project located on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. If chosen, the Stothert project could be British Columbia's first wind power development. Although the West Coast province has significant wind resources, its complex mountainous terrain makes them a challenge to develop. It is also tough to compete on price with the province's abundant small hydro resources, at least in the short term. Of the 30 projects to make the shortlist, 24 are small hydro.

Four biomass and one biogas project will also be included in the bidding. Together, the projects on the shortlist total 700 MW and have a combined annual output of 3300 GWh a year -- four times the power being sought by BC Hydro. The utility's Bev Van Ruyven is pleased with the "good variety" of projects. "BC Hydro is relying on the private sector to meet the future energy needs of our customers and this response confirms they can do that."

Bids from the proponents will be adjusted for factors like location, firmness of energy and transmission impacts, then compared against the utility's ceiling price of C$0.055/kWh. BC Hydro will offer power purchase agreements, starting with the lowest adjusted bid price, until its 800 GWh/year cap is reached. "Only the most competitive pre-qualified projects will be offered an electricity purchase agreement," says Van Ruyven.

While British Columbia has no installed wind capacity yet, it is attracting the attention of developers looking for a piece of Canada's wind power production incentive (WPPI). Of the 88 letters of interest registered under the five-year program, 14 are for British Columbia projects totalling 1205 MW. The capacity total proposed for the province is far higher than for any other province, mainly due to 680 MW of offshore wind plant proposals. Across Canada, nearly 3656 MW of wind projects have applied for WPPI, although only 1000 MW will receive the incentive, which averages C$0.01/kWh.

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