Wind Wire: Big benefits

New Brunswick Power has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 100 MW of wind energy in an effort to hit its target of 400 MW of wind on its 4000 MW system.

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Bids are due August 14 and will be evaluated not only on price, but also on the level of local content in the design, construction and commissioning of projects. Not all components of a wind farm can be procured from New Brunswick companies, admits energy minister Jack Keir. But those that can supply products and services "will be able to compete in a fair and transparent process," he says. New Brunswick Power, which already buys electricity from the 96 MW Kent Hills project owned by Calgary-based TransAlta Corporation, had planned to get to its wind energy target with a solicitation launched in 2007. But after receiving 25 proposals totalling 1400 MW, it ended up signing contracts with only three projects for 213 MW. "We obviously have to do what is right for our customers in terms of rates and so on. We accomplished a fair amount last time and this will hopefully take us to the last bit," says the company's Heather MacLean. The government owned utility's goal has been to reach the target by November 2010, but whether it will make that deadline remains to be seen. Acciona Energy has already delayed the expected November 2009 in-service date of it 49.5 MW Lameque and 64.5 MW Aulac wind projects because of difficulty securing financing (Windpower Monthly, May 2009). The current RFP requires a commercial operating date of no later than June 30, 2011.

Large industrial emitters of CO2 in Alberta are buying carbon offsets generated by wind turbines in the province to help meet their greenhouse gas reduction obligations. Alberta's 100 largest emitters must reduce their CO2 intensity, or emissions per unit of production, by 12% from their established baselines. Last year, the companies bought about 2.75 mega tonnes worth of offsets to help meet that target. While a breakdown of where those offsets came from in 2008 is not yet available, in 2007 about 45% came from wind producers. Andrew Kolchins of Evolution Markets, whose company played a role in some of the wind deals, says prices paid for the offsets were in the C$13 range. The compliance option most chosen by emitters, however, was payment of C$15 a tonne into a climate change and emissions management fund in support of emissions reduction technologies. Companies paid C$82.3 million into the fund in 2008, bringing it to C$122.4 million. The province is due to announce criteria for allocating the money. Critics of the province's approach point out that Alberta's emissions are still rising. Dan Woynillowicz, of Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank based in Alberta, says Environment Canada's latest statistics show the province's 2007 emissions were 44% higher than its 1990 emissions and nearly 6% higher than in 2006. "The fact is that Alberta's system is not working and is fundamentally flawed," he says. The Pembina Institute also has "serious concerns" that a significant portion of the reductions represented by offsets may have occurred anyway, even without the regulation.

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