January 23, 2006

Thousand-megawatt wind farm proposed for construction near Churchill Falls

Ventus Energy, a Toronto-based wind energy developer, and Metis Energy, a subsidiary of Metis Development, have announced plans to develop a $2.5 billion wind farm near Churchill Falls, Labrador.

The new wind farm, to be called Height of Land Wind Park, would be the largest in Canada, with an installed nameplate capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW). It is expected to produce more than three terawatt hours of zero-emission electricity per year - enough to power 500,000 homes and displace the equivalent of three million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Operating as a newly-created partnership, Labrador Ventus Limited Partnership (www.labradorventus.ca), the companies will adopt a phased construction approach to the development, extending over a three-year period. The group expects to initiate public consultations throughout the province in February and says that, pending regulatory approval, construction could begin in 2007.

Ventus Energy president and CEO John Douglas said the company spent the past year evaluating potential partners for the development, ultimately forging a relationship with Metis Development. Ventus also says preliminary discussions have been with the Innu, the Newfoundland and Labrador government and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. "We are very keen to ensure that the concerns of the Innu and Innu business community, and other residents of Labrador, are fully considered in this development," Douglas said.

Development activities to date have included: the completion of a comprehensive wind prospecting field trip throughout Labrador and Newfoundland in the summer of 2005; the installation of wind monitoring equipment in the project area, which involved obtaining permits from Transport Canada, NavCan and Crown Lands (Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources); the submission of an interconnection application to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in October 2005; the filing of an environmental registration document with the provincial Department of Environment and Conservation; and the filing of a project description with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Meanwhile, provincial Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne, commenting on the wind farm proposal, acknowledged that the partnership made a presentation to him prior to making its public announcement. He emphasized, however that "there is no arrangement between the province and this partnership for the development of this wind project, and government is not prepared to see the project proceed at this time.

"This is simply one of several private proponents that have made presentations to government for wind development projects in various parts of the province, and no decisions have been made on going forward with any project," he added.

Byrne noted that in an effort to see a strategic and co-ordinated approach to potential wind development in the province, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro recently issued a request for proposals for a small wind development project. At the same time, the provincial government is in the process of developing a comprehensive energy plan for the province.

"This plan will set out the framework for policy decisions on how our energy sources are developed to achieve maximum benefit for the province. Obviously, the development of wind power will be a component of that plan," said Byrne. "As a result we will not be making any decisions on such large wind development projects until government has its Energy Plan complete."

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