Beothuk Energy eyes Maritime Link for wind power conduit
St. John's company planning to build wind turbine farm in waters off Stephenville
A Newfoundland company that wants to build a wind farm off the west coast of the island says it would sell the energy to Nova Scotia's Emera, and Nalcor, if they're interested.
Beothuk Energy, based in St. John's, announced ambitious plans last fall to build 30 gravity-based wind turbines in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
It's estimated they would generate 180 megawatts of "clean, green energy," costing less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour to produce. Beothuk pegs the estimated cost of the project at about $400 million, funded entirely through private investment.
They also estimate the business would create more than 600 jobs in the region.
Last week, the company said its preferred location for the turbines is in St. George's Bay, near Stephenville.
"It's ideally located," said Beothuk Energy president and CEO Kirby Mercer. "It's in shallow waters, and it's really close to a transmission corridor — the Maritime Link."
He said the company's headquarters would be in Stephenville, which would also act as the service port for operations. Production facilities would be in nearby Corner Brook.
Mercer noted the new Nova Scotia Power Act allows for private enterprise to get involved in that province's energy business. He said the Newfoundland and Labrador government also passed a resolution in 2012 for open access to its energy corridor.
"So that avenue is open to us as well."
Mercer said the biggest obstacle facing his company now is the lack of a power-purchase agreement. He noted the contract between Nova Scotia's private utility Emera and Newfoundland and Labrador's Crown energy company Nalcor allows a third party to supply surplus energy, including wind.
"It doesn't have to be with Nalcor. It can be with Emera. There's other deals that can be made within the province with the political will, but right now we would want to access the Maritime Link to export either direct to Emera or another third party.
"We're working towards that end, and with some political will and some regional co-operation we'll have that."
Mercer said a request to explore a power-purchase agreement with Nalcor was submitted last year.
"We haven't heard directly back from them, but we've spoken to the government and they are reviewing our proposal. We think it makes perfect sense ... fits like a glove. I'm not sure of an exact timeline, but the sooner they can get back to us the better so we can start this thing right away."
Beothuk Energy predicts the turbines would produce so-called clean and green energy for the next 25 to 50 years, based on the life of the equipment.
Mercer said his company is also seeking permits to do further assessments of the subsea terrain and weather patterns in the area, adding winds in the gulf are ranked third in the world for consistency and strength.
"So it's a huge, untapped resource," he said.