It looks like there will be no shortage of wind farm developers bidding early next year to get their projects off the ground.
About 80 people, most representing wind energy companies, took part in a meeting Thursday in Halifax hosted by the province’s renewable electricity administrator.
“It’s a small pond with a lot of big fish in it,” Dan Roscoe, chief operating officer of Dartmouth’s Scotian WindFields, said.
“There’s a lot of big players, a lot of international companies, and, really, we’re looking at three or four projects.”
The renewable energy plan requires Nova Scotia Power to buy 300 gigawatt hours per year of electricity from independent producers as part of the province’s next round of renewable energy electricity projects. That’s equal to 100 megawatts of wind power.
The province wants to have 25 per cent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2015, and 40 per cent by 2020.
John Dalton, whose Massachusetts company is overseeing the bid process, said the preliminary plan was to have independent producers notify him of their intentions by Oct. 20.
“One party has already indicated the schedule is too aggressive; they’d like more time,” the president of Power Advisory said at the start of the meeting.
While the administrator said he’ll consider making changes, others in the audience agreed with the proposed timeline, which would see projects be in service by Jan. 1, 2015.
Independent producers will have to submit their proposals in February and March. The administrator will review them and make recommendations to the Utility and Review Board.
The provincial regulator makes the final decision, with winners being announced in April.
Independent producers shared varying opinions Thursday on whether they should be able to win more than one contract.
The administrator’s initial plan includes such a restriction and also limits project capacity to 50 megawatts.
“We’re going to assess that whole situation,” Mike Magnus, president and chief executive officer of Shear Wind, said during a break when asked about the one-contract restriction.
“From the question and answer (session), obviously they’ve got to reassess it as well. It’s a concern.”
Shear Wind would like to expand its Glen Dhu wind farm, a 62.1-megawatt facility between Pictou and Antigonish counties, which opened earlier this year. The company has also proposed a 50-megawatt development near Parrsboro, Cumberland County.
Dalton said the feedback will be used to help develop program guidelines this fall.
“We’ve got a good group of prospective bidders in the room,” he said after the session.
“We’ve had some good, frank feedback, which we can use to help us refine the proposals that we’ve put forward.”
For instance, Dalton said it might be possible to allow developers to be involved in more than one winning bid as long as there are limits on their overall share.
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