Project Development, Wind Power

Company Closes in on 1,000 MW New Wind Energy

Several new business arrangements for Western Wind Energy (WND) have brought the British Columbia-based wind development company within reach of between 1,000 and 1,100 MW of new wind energy electrical generation facilities in California, Arizona, and New Brunswick, Canada.

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada – February 28, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Through this arrangement, the company has negotiated for up to 27,000 acres of suitable land for wind energy electrical generation. This land package may accommodate over 800 MW of new wind energy electrical generation facilities. Anticipated revenues from this project would be in the order of US$ 160 million per year. These arrangements build on the company management’s history with wind energy dating back to the early 80s with the 600 MW Tehachapi wind farm in California that is one of the oldest and largest wind farms in the world. Part of the company’s new developments include an expansion on the existing Tehachapi site said Mike Boyd, WND’s director of regulatory affairs and president-elect. “WND has been purchasing land adjacent to its current wind farm to prepare for the next round of power purchase agreements (PPA) to be let when the transmission bottleneck in eased,” said Boyd. “As one of only a handful of qualified facilities as designated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), WND is in a unique position to capture a 100 plus MW PPA in the near term.” In other developments the company has secured land in northeastern Arizona with utility scale wind speeds and proximity to transmission lines, allowing for what would be the first utility scale wind project in Arizona. Integral to these plans was the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Arizona Power Authority (APA). According to Boyd, the APA currently generates between 350-400 MW of hydropower from Hoover Dam and sells the power primarily to special districts (irrigation, water) and to municipal utilities. They are presently only entitled 25 percent of the Hoover Dam capacity, while California and Nevada get the rest. This new arrangement will allow the APA to augment their hydro allocation with wind energy for their customers, and to allow for a more reliable supply should there be decreased production from the Hoover dam. Despite the proven advantages and benefits of wind farms, WND was not exempt from wind development hurdles that encumber every new development. “The regulated utilities in Arizona have always been the political big dogs in the state and have not embraced green power,” said Boyd. “They are heavily invested in their coal/natural gas power plants. But after numerous calls, and many meetings, we were able to get over some of the concerns. Most involved the intermittency of wind, transmission capacity, and price. But due to our past performance, and our strong financial modeling…we have developed some converts.” In related Arizona arrangements that could yield significant wind developments, WND is in the process of acquiring/leasing land in northwest Arizona, which would ultimately be sent to the APA as well as the other projects. “We estimate that the northwest wind resource could yield upwards of 800 MW of generation,” said Boyd. “WND has significant wind data from both sites and is confident that both sites will be a reliable, quality resource.” WND development plans are spreading out to the East coast as well where in New Brunswick the company has made sizeable progress on another smaller scale project. Permitting for a 20 MW site has been granted on Grand Manan Island. Initial testing shows a significant wind resource on a parcel where WND has a signed, executed lease. WND is currently negotiating with New Brunswick Power for a PPA on that site. All these new developments come at a time when geopolitical strife around the world and the ensuing rise in fossil fuel prices has shed a brighter light on renewable energy sources such as wind and Boyd expects these situations to have dramatic effects on the wind power industry. “The cost of natural gas peaked at US$10 MM BTU for the first time in a while,” said Boyd. “That means US$5-6 cents/kWh production costs for the power providers. We can deliver it for under US$4 cents. You do the math.” Jesse Broehl can be reached at [email protected]