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Shear Wind project faces delay

A shortage of wind turbines has meant one of Nova Scotia’s proposed wind farms will be delayed, but the company running the operation will deliver the amount of electricity it promised to Nova Scotia Power, The Chronicle Herald has learned.

Shear Wind Inc. will erect only 12 of 27 turbines by Dec. 31, and the remainder will be installed by March 31, 2011, company president Mike Magnus said Tuesday night after a presentation at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

Despite the setback, the Bedford renewable energy firm will still meet its contractual obligations to provide Nova Scotia Power with 20 megawatts of wind-generated electricity, enough for almost 6,000 homes, by the end of December under a contract signed in 2008.

“We are anticipating putting up 12 turbines by the end of the year and the balance of turbines before March 31,” Magnus said.

“That’s our plans.”

The company probably spent “too much time assessing” which turbines would be best for the project and consequently ordered too late, he said.

In May, Shear Wind signed a contract with German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon for an estimated $100 million.

Shear Wind is developing the $150-million Glen Dhu wind power project to produce 60 megawatts of power. It straddles Antigonish and Pictou counties, and was scheduled to have 27 turbines up and running by the end of December.

This is another setback for the project, but Shear Wind was unable to secure financing until late last year when a Spanish utility conglomerate bought a 62 per cent stake in Shear Wind for $27 million.

Shear Wind had to forfeit a $500,000 performance deposit to Nova Scotia Power after it failed to deliver electricity to the utility by the end of last year.

Shear Wind’s project is one of six contracts Nova Scotia Power signed in 2008 with wind developers for 247 megawatts of electricity, enough for 87,000 homes, to be generated by late 2009. Only RMS Energy, which has installed 34 wind turbines west of New Glasgow, is producing electricity.

Nova Scotia Power has purchased two of the struggling projects, which should be fully operational later this year, and bought a 49 per cent stake in Renewable Energy Services Ltd.’s Point Tupper wind project, which is already producing power, said Patty Faith, Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman, on Wednesday.

A 30-megawatt wind project proposed by Acciona Energy Canada for Amherst has been halted for many reasons, including financing costs and the downturn in the economy, said Micaela Whalen, Acciona spokeswoman, from Chicago on Wednesday.

“The devaluation of the Canadian dollar, combined with rising costs, made the project more expensive to build and increasingly difficult to procure financing, and all those things are critical. We’re currently looking for a solution to make the project viable,” she said.

Despite the Acciona project stalling and Shear Wind’s delay in installing turbines, Nova Scotia Power will meet renewable energy targets because the utility oversubscribed the amount of electricity required, said Faith.

“When all the projects that are currently under construction are completed, wind power will account for 280 megawatts of electricity in the province, which is about double what it was.”

These wind projects will represent about 13 to 16 per cent of the province’s electricity supply.