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