Tag Archives: Windstream Energy

Offshore setback for Ontario side of Great Lakes a true setback for some developers

Just like that, a 200-megawatt offshore wind project proposed by utility Toronto Hydro is — to put it bluntly — dead in the water. Ontario’s Ministry of Environment issued a proposed regulation today that would prohibit the development of offshore wind projects that are 5 kilometres or closer to shore. Toronto Hydro’s project would place up to 60 wind turbines between two and four kilometres from shore, so if the proposed rules get passed then the utility’s offshore plan will be terminated. Toronto Hydro’s isn’t the only project that will be killed. There were several “near shore” projects proposed in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie that will be caught in this new setback rule, and even some projects that straddle the five kilometre barrier. Windstream Energy, for example, which is the first developer in North American to get a power purchase agreement for a 300-MW offshore wind farm (i.e. it got a feed-in-tariff contract with the Ontario Power Authority), may have to readjust the layout of its proposed project and drop a few turbines to fit within the rules. Trillium Power, which has a huge 700-MW project proposed for Lake Ontario, wouldn’t be affected because its turbines will be located 17 to 28 kilometres offshore.

I agree that a setback is necessary. I haven’t decided yet whether I think five kilometres it too far or not. I think three kilometers would have been a better compromise. The proposed rules could still change after public consultation, but for now, there are many angry offshore wind developers out there who face the prospects of seeing their projects killed. Toronto Hydro, for example, just spent $1 million or so to put an anonometer in the lake to measure wind speeds for two years. That now looks like wasted dollars.

Ontario approves a motherload of green energy projects: 2,500 MW of capacity

The Ontario Power Authority, which designed and is in charge of administering the province’s feed-in-tariff program, announced micro and small/medium sized FIT contracts earlier this year totalling 112 megawatts. Today, it issued the big one: the awarding of 184 contracts for projects larger than 500 kilowatts. In total, and assuming all projects get developed, this works out to 2,421 MW of green-energy capacity.

Ground-mounted solar represented 76 of the projects and amount to more than 600 megawatts. Northland Power, a company normally associated with building natural gas plants, has 13 solar projects totalling 130 MW. Onshore wind projects number 47 and waterpower projects number 46. The Ontario government called this the “single-largest green energy initiative of its kind in Canada,” while environmental and pro-green industry groups called the contract approvals historic. No doubt, criticism will follow from the usual suspects who continue to crap on any green-energy programs.

Significantly, 264 MW worth of projects have been identified as “community power”: projects developed, owned and operated by Ontario landowners and groups comprised of First Nations and energy co-ops — in other words, not by corporations.

The province said this latest round of projects will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs, though I’ve always found it a mystery how they come to those numbers and take them with a grain of salt. It also estimated it will result in $9 billion in private investment, a figure that’s boosted by local content requirements.

The big surprise: a contract was issued for a 300 megawatt offshore wind project in Lake Ontario, near Kingston’s Wolfe Island. It’s sure to be a controverial project, but it represents the first time *in the world* that a power-purchase contract has been granted to an offshore wind project in the Great Lakes. It’s also the largest single approved project under this entire FIT round. Click here for a breakdown of the 184 projects.

The company behind the Wolfe Island Shoals Windfarm is a company called Windstream Energy. Don’t know much about them, but they’ve got their work cut out. They would have had to put up more than $3 million in security deposits to participate in the FIT, so I’m assuming they’ve got lots of wind data and have done the necessary studies (bird, bat, etc…) to move the project forward. But even so, they’re going to face the wrath of an angry Wolfe Island residents association, which is having a hard enough time accepting the onshore turbines there. “If they’re directly in front of Wolfe Island it’s going to be a firestorm,” said one industry observer. Got that right.

More to come later…