Nova Scotia Power has short-listed eight companies out of 23 responses from independent power producers to a request for expressions of interest issued in June. The companies are competing to develop 50 MW of wind energy in the province -- about 2% of Nova Scotia's generating capacity. Bob Johnson, NS Power's manager of renewable energy development, says he plans to meet with the candidates. "We'll work with them to determine what the next phase will look like." If the utility decides to issue a request for proposals, says Johnson, it could be in the hands of the developers by the end of this year. Johnson declines to reveal the names of the companies on the short list, but at least two newcomers to the Canadian market are happy to discuss their attempt to gain a foothold in the province. Renewable Energy Systems (RES), a wind developer based in the UK and active in the US, opened a modest office in Halifax in June. "At least it's the first Canadian phone number," says Robert Leth, who manages the office. "We didn't want Canada to be just an add-on or an afterthought to the United States market." Leth says RES moved into Canada specifically to pursue the Nova Scotia project, but plans to stay. "The potential we see in Canada is widespread," he says, pointing particularly to Ontario, which is in the process of deregulating its electricity market. "Beyond that, I can't think of a single province we're not interested in. But our agenda is driven by the projects." Turbowinds Canada Inc, a subsidiary of Belgium wind turbine manufacturer Turbowinds NV, is also on the short list. The company has already announced its intention to build a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Nova Scotia and vice president George Klass sees the project as a way to kick-start his plans. "It gets us moving," he says. "It will provide the foundation to put a technical team together in Canada."