Project post­poned

Beothuck En­ergy wind farm project in N.S. moved down pri­or­ity list

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - PROVINCIAL - BY JAMES RIS­DON

St. John’s-based Beothuk En­ergy’s pro­posed $4-bil­lion off­shore wind-en­ergy de­vel­op­ment for the south­ern tip of Nova Sco­tia is on the back­burner two years af­ter it was un­veiled.

It was sup­posed to be a boon for Yar­mouth’s econ­omy. A 200-kilo­me­tre un­der­sea high-volt­age trans­mis­sion line, dubbed the Can-am Link, was to con­nect the 1,000-megawatt en­ergy project to the Bos­ton area. Wind tur­bines on grav­ity bases were to sit in wa­ter no deeper than 30 me­tres

The first phase, ex­pected to pro­duce 300-400 megawatts of elec­tric­ity, was to come on­line in four to five years. The num­ber of jobs to be cre­ated would have been close to 1,000 for that phase alone.

In late De­cem­ber 2015, Yar­mouth Mayor Pam Mood called the project “ex­cit­ing”. But now, half­way through the pro­jected sched­ule to get the first phase of the project up and run­ning, a Beothuk En­ergy part­ner is say­ing the megawind farm off the south­ern tip of Nova Sco­tia is no longer a top pri­or­ity.

“You can­not work on six projects at the same time,” said Lars Thaan­ing Ped­er­sen, co-chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners, in an in­ter­view. “It costs too much and this Yar­mouth project is not the high­est pri­or­ity.” Kirby Mercer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer for Beothuk En­ergy, did not re­ply to re­peated re­quests for an in­ter­view about this mas­sive, pro­posed wind en­ergy de­vel­op­ment.

His com­pany and Den­mark­based Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners are cur­rently work­ing on de­vel­op­ing a 180-megawatt wind en­ergy project off the coast of New­found­land. Mercer has re­port­edly said he wants to go back and live in his home prov­ince of New­found­land again.

The St. Ge­orge’s Bay en­ergy project is es­ti­mated to cost up to $800 mil­lion, all of which is to be fi­nanced by Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners which is plan­ning to take an eq­uity stake in the project. “We will be pro­vid­ing the de­vel­op­ment cap­i­tal and the con­struc­tion cap­i­tal,” said Ped­er­sen.

The go-ahead for the fi­nanc­ing and con­struc­tion of that off­shore wind en­ergy project, though, will de­pend on the two com­pa­nies be­ing able to ink long-term deals for the sale of that elec­tric­ity. In a speech to a Ro­tary Club in late July, Mercer re­port­edly said his on-go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment, util­i­ties, and po­ten­tial cus­tomers for en­ergy have to lead to some­thing sub­stan­tially close to a deal by the end of this year.

“We have to have a com­mit­ment of some sort, or an in­di­ca­tion this will hap­pen in the prov­ince by the end of the year, or this project could go some­where else,” Mercer has re­port­edly said.

The St. Ge­orge’s Bay off­shore wind en­ergy project could cre­ate up to 2,000 jobs. But even if the St. Ge­orge’s Bay project goes side­ways, there is no guar­an­tee that the pro­posed wind en­ergy project off the coast of Yar­mouth will be Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners’ next pri­or­ity. Ac­cord­ing to Ped­er­sen, there are six such projects in the pipe­line. And Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners is also gun­ning for a slice of the Mas­sachusetts en­ergy mar­ket.

In the past year, the state has is­sued its Mas­sachusetts Clean En­ergy re­quest for pro­pos­als to get the com­pa­nies that dis­trib­ute elec­tric­ity there to pro­vide 1,600 megawatts of wind en­ergy by 2027. It’s un­der that re­quest for pro­pos­als that Nova Sco­tia-based en­ergy gi­ant Emera has of­fered to carry 1,000 megawatts of elec­tric­ity on a roughly 563-km high-volt­age en­ergy cor­ri­dor that has yet to be built from New Brunswick to Mas­sachusetts. Emera sub­sidiary Clean Power North­east De­vel­op­ment is han­dling this At­lantic Link project that is to be sup­plied with elec­tric­ity from seven as-yet-tobe-built wind farms, in­clud­ing two in Nova Sco­tia and five in New Brunswick.

But Mas­sachusetts is also ex­pected to is­sue another re­quest for pro­pos­als in De­cem­ber, this one for up to 800 megawatts of off­shore wind en­ergy.

Although Beothuk En­ergy is not ex­pected to be in­volved in any of those pro­pos­als, its fi­nan­cial backer, Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners, is very in­ter­ested in pro­vid­ing Mas­sachusetts with that off­shore wind en­ergy.

The com­pany has set up an of­fice in Bos­ton is work­ing with another part­ner there for that pro­posal. While a de­mand for off­shore wind en­ergy for Mas­sachusetts might sound like some­thing that could trig­ger the con­struc­tion of a wind farm off the south­ern tip of Nova Sco­tia, it won’t. The rea­son for that is sim­ple: the off­shore wind en­ergy be­ing sought by Mas­sachusetts has to be pro­duced in the United States.



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