Winds of change

Beothuk En­ergy says it is ready to spend $1 bil­lion to create new wind farm in­dus­try

The Western Star - - Front Page - BY GARY KEAN THE WEST­ERN STAR

Kirby Mercer re­ally wants to move back to west­ern New­found­land and he hopes hav­ing $1 bil­lion to spend and the po­ten­tial to create 600 or more new jobs will help him do it.

Mercer is the chair­per­son and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Beothuk En­ergy Inc., the com­pany that wants to de­velop the off­shore wind en­ergy in­dus­try off the west coast of the is­land.

Orig­i­nally from Cor­ner Brook, Mercer was back in his home­town Thurs­day to give a lun­cheon ad­dress to the Ro­tary Club of Cor­ner Brook.

In his speech, Mercer told Ro­tar­i­ans that his com­pany and its key in­vestor, Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners, have now se­cured $1 bil­lion in pri­vate fund­ing to spend on the megapro­ject to harness wind power. The plan would in­clude a fab­ri­ca­tion plant at the port of Cor­ner Brook, along with fa­cil­i­ties to main­tain and ser­vice the wind farm in the St. Ge­orge’s Bay area based out of Stephenvil­le.

Mercer said his es­ti­mates that the project could create around 600 jobs in Cor­ner Brook alone have been deemed con­ser­va­tive by some of the part­ners he is in­volved with. He said some have pegged the num­ber at pos­si­bly 2,000 jobs.

Time is of the essence for Mercer and his part­ners, who are in ne­go­ti­a­tions to work out an off­take agree­ment with govern­ment, the util­i­ties and po­ten­tial cus­tomers for the en­ergy. He noted other Eastern Cana­dian prov­inces are ea­ger to seize the same op­por­tu­nity to de­velop the off­shore wind in­dus­try in their own re­gion.

“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,” said Mercer. “We don’t want that to hap­pen.”

With some util­i­ties in At­lantic Canada hold­ing a vir­tual mo­nop­oly in their re­gions, Mercer said his plan to de­velop wind en­ergy is dis­rupt­ing that mar­ket­place and that’s why it is tak­ing some time to make it hap­pen.

He be­lieves there is a grow­ing ap­petite and po­lit­i­cal will­ing­ness to de­velop wind power now.

Mercer said west­ern New­found­land is the ideal lo­ca­tion to stage this de­vel­op­ment, which he en­vi­sions will also even­tual grow into fab­ri­cat­ing grav­ity base struc­tures and wind tur­bines for the eastern United States.

“Since the glory days of the mill, I’ve never seen any­thing like this,” he said of the po­ten­tial to start up a new in­dus­try.

GARY KEAN/ THE WEST­ERN STAR

Kirby Mercer of Beothuk En­ergy gives an up­date on his com­pany’s plans to de­velop off­shore wind en­ergy in west­ern New­found­land dur­ing a speech in Cor­ner Brook Thurs­day.

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