ANY WIND ENERGY PROPOSAL LIKE BEOTHUK WILL NOT SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY
“Since the glory days of the mill, I’ve never seen anything like this.” Any idea of the author of those words?
If you were at the Rotary luncheon in Corner Brook nearly two years ago, in July 2017, you would have heard Kirby Mercer (CEO of Beothuk Energy Inc.) utter that exact phrase.
Mercer was in our city to provide an update on his company’s plan to develop offshore wind energy in western NL. Mercer’s key investor, Copenhagen Offshore Partners, were reported to have secured nearly $1 billion in private funding.
The project included a plan to have a fabrication plant at Corner Brook’s port and facilities to maintain and service a wind farm in the Stephenville area.
Mercer wowed the Rotary audience with estimates of 600 jobs for Corner Brook with possibly as many as 2,000 employed. But there was a sticking point: time. Time was of the essence. Beothuk Energy had to negotiate an off-take agreement with government, the utilities and customers for the energy.
If a commitment was not in hand by the end of 2017, Mercer told the Rotary audience, the project could go somewhere else.
Well, it is fast approaching nearly two years since those words were spoken and still no commitment in sight.
About a week after Mercer made his remarks, Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady was at the EnviroSummit 2017 in Stephenville and stated regarding Beothuk Energy, “that’s certainly a big opportunity.”
One month later, in August 2017, in a statement sent to The Western Star, Coady noted, “the project is in its early stages and we continue to discuss.”
Let’s continue with the timeline in 2017 and it is now mid-September.
Headline from The Western Star: “Beothuk Energy project delayed”
But wait, this delay is not the project I’ve just described.
A $4-billion Beothuk Energy wind energy development for Nova Scotia was now on hold some two years after being announced.
See any similarities yet to our proposed wind energy development?
The 1,000-megawatt project for N.S. was to be much larger than the 180 megawatt developed here in Western NL, yet both had one striking similarity: they were nothing burgers.
Premier Ball has stated he wants to increase electricity demand in our province by taking oil heated government buildings and switching them to being powered by electricity (The Western Star-Sept. 28/18).
My belief is the last thing Ball wants to bring to this province’s energy grid is an energy source to compete with Muskrat Falls.
As an aside, Ball’s words contradict Gerry Byrne’s words in this newspaper the previous day of: “We are exploring new opportunities to use wood fibre as an alternative fuel source. Replacing carbon rich fuel sources such as oil for heating of our public buildings.”
Byrne went on to add, the province is encouraging the private sector to consider that for new construction and retrofitting – Star, Sept. 27/2018.
Now we have two energy sources on the table: Muskrat Falls and wood fibre. Well gentleman, which is it?
Are we going with electricity generated from Muskrat to power our hospitals, schools and government buildings and private sector builds or not?
Any wind energy proposal like Beothuk will not see the light of day in NL. Crucial to keep in mind is provincial legislation passed in 2010. This act is a roadblock to any private sector wind development like Beothuk’s. There is no sign this act will be repealed in whole or in part. Beothuk is a dead duck in western NL.
Saturday, June 15 marked Global Wind Day.
Any guess what Coady planned to serve up to mark the occasion which mirrored her enthusiasm for Beothuk’s proposal?
On the menu: Another nothing burger.
Bern Kenny, Corner Brook