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Proposed wind project could be a long way from coming to fruition  

STEPHENVILLE – The development of a 30-megawatt wind farm by an aboriginal-owned company on 225 acres of land in Port au Port West could be a long way from becoming a reality.

That’s because Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has yet to decide whether they’ll be moving ahead with another wind project in the near future.

The recently formed Mi’kmaq Resources Corporation briefed the Bay. St. George Chamber of Commerce on their plans at a recent meeting.

Mi’kmaq Resources has formed a federally incorporated entity, Jet-Age Wind Inc., and have retained the services of Wind Prospect Inc., an international wind energy development company from the United Kingdom, to provide the expertise required.

They have acquired suitable land, negotiated $80 million of available capital and proven expertise in traditional technology, an exclusive agreement with the inventor of new jet turbine technology, and a management group in place to complete the development.

Greg Jones, manager of business development with Hydro, said Jet-Age Wind Inc. wrote them and they asked company representatives to explain their plans. That hasn’t happened yet.

The business development wing of Hydro is responsible for the company’s wind development strategy in the province.

“We welcome the opportunity to talk to them as the best decisions are those made with the most information,” Jones said. “We know wind projects work in this province as we currently have two in development which are expected to be in use this fall. Each will generate 27 megawatts and they’re located in St. Lawrence and Fermeuse.”

He said both projects came about after Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro published a request for proposals in an open and competitive process, with the first in 2005 and the second in 2006. He said on both these projects, the companies put forward submissions in answering the requests.

“Whether we would proceed with another project is something that’s not known as we’re currently evaluating the pros and cons of doing that. There’s been significant interest from different entities looking at participating in wind projects in addition to this one by Jet-Age Wind Inc.,” Jones said.

He said the technologies employed in Fermeuse and St. Lawrence are proven technologies in use around the world but Jet-Age is talking about a new technology that Hydro is not familiar with.

Bert Alexander, spokesperson for Mi’kmaq Resources, pointed out during the announcement that the province has 5,030 megawatts of wind energy potential identified in its energy plan so granting them 30 megawatts should be an easy decision.

Jones said these 5,030 megawatts are a combination of resources on the island and in Labrador; however, currently on the island there is a limited amount of wind generation they can absorb into their system.

“We have an estimate of about 80 megawatts for the island and already 54 megawatts of that is used up with the Fermeuse and St. Lawrence projects,” he said. “Because we are not connected to the North American market if we add too much wind to our system we could end up generating wind power and spilling hydroelectric power – which doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

However, there could be more need for wind power in the future as the load increases on the island.

“Those two projects already committed will save about 300,000 barrels of oil every year at Holyrood and save consumers more than $7 million per year during the life of the $20 million contract,” Jones said.

Alexander said they are ready to talk and is in the process of setting up meetings with Hydro. He said their correspondence with Hydro dates back to before Christmas of 2007.

“However, we are in the wind energy business and of course we’d rather do business right here in our own province; however, we’ve been approached by other provinces who are interested in working with us and actually have a meeting set up with another province that will be taking place soon,” he said.

Frank Gale

The Western Star

19 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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