On the same day Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro announced NeWind Group Inc. will be awarded a contract to provide wind power to Newfoundland, it announced it is issuing a second request for proposals for similar contracts.
Hydro CEO Ed Martin, along with Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale, announced NeWind was successful in its proposal to provide 25 megawatts of wind power to the island portion of the province from the St. Lawrence region.
The NeWind Group was formed in December 2000 by CHI Hydroelectric Company Inc., QuadraTec Inc. and FGA Consulting Engineers Inc. The latter two companies are based in Newfoundland, while CHI is a subsidiary of ERGA, a renewable energy company owned by the ENEL Group of Italy.
NeWind will install 14 1.8-megawatt wind turbines near the Burin Peninsula community of St. Lawrence, with the potential to provide energy for 6,800 homes. The wind farm is expected to be in service by the end of 2008.
Martin said Hydro received seven proposals by its Aug. 31 deadline.
“Twenty-five megawatts of wind (power) will also mean that annually, Hydro will burn approximately 165,000 barrels less of oil at the Holyrood thermal generating station, resulting in a reduction in the emissions as well as cost,” Martin said.
Martin acknowledged wind-power projects had been considered by Hydro in the past, and said the timing is right for such a project to go ahead, due to technology change and an increase in the price of oil.
“We’ve seen over the past five to eight years a tremendous reduction in the cost of these units as technology improves,” he explained. “In addition to that, from Hydro’s perspective, where we produce 30 per cent of our generation from thermal – we all know what’s happened to the price of oil.
“So, with cost being reduced and reliability increasing, and you put that with the ability to reduce thermal costs, we’ve come to a point now where it’s very effective for us up to a certain level.”
Hydro issued an initial request for proposals for a demonstration wind-power project in 2000. In March 2001, a proposal from NeWind was accepted and in September 2002, St. Lawrence was named as the site.
In 2003, the then-Liberal government announced it had given approval in principle for the establishment of a demonstration project.
The next step, Martin said, is to wrap up the power purchase agreement with NeWind, which he expects will be done within the next six weeks.
The St. Lawrence project is expected to create between 30 and 50 jobs in the two-year construction phase alone.
Martin would not comment on the monetary value of the new wind farm, preferring to wait until the second request for proposals is completed.
The deadline for the newest call for bids is Oct. 31.
“We were very pleased with the outcome of the initial (request for proposals),” Martin said.
“Based on the quality of the proposals and the data received, we believe we have the potential to add additional blocks of clean, renewable wind power to the island sooner than we expected.”
In the meantime, Hydro is continuing with a pilot project in Ramea, where it is supplementing wind power with diesel.
Martin said Hydro has mastered the technology of intertwining the two, and, along with the help of Memorial University and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is attempting to add hydrogen storage into the combination.
By Tara Mullowney, The Telegram
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