BC wind energy firm targets California for further development
After reviewing the overall U.S. market for wind power, Western Wind Energy Corporation has decided to concentrate its efforts on acquiring new wind energy development sites in California. The Coquitlam, BC-based company's site acquisition strategy is focused at 30 sites with a total generation potential of more than 1,200 megawatts (MW). A key goal will be to focus on diverse regions of the state, outside traditional wind development areas such as the Altamont, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio Pass (Palm Springs) regions. These are unique site locations specifically oriented to the local environment.
To illustrate the order of magnitude associated with its strategy, the Western Wind Energy cites the example of Manitoba, which has issued a call to tender for up to 1,000 MW of renewable energy. Once these new renewable energy facilities (mainly wind energy) have been built, the company believes further development opportunities in Manitoba will be virtually exhausted due to the small population base and the lack of substantial high voltage transmission infrastructure to move the green energy to markets in other regions.
By contrast, Western Wind Energy notes that California's 30-million-plus population consumes over 50,000 MW of peak-load energy and the state's energy consumption is growing by 500 to 1,000 MW per year, making it the premium wind energy market in the world.
Moreover, with the recent passage of Senate Bill 107, subsequently signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger, California is poised to increase its use of renewable energy to 20% of its total retail electric load by 2010. The legislation also contemplates the unbundling of renewable energy certificates (RECs), setting the stage for an independently traded green tag market within the state
This would enable a developer such as Western Wind Energy to sell its power in a location adjacent to a small municipality and have the green tags purchased by another regional utility seeking to meet the state's renewable portfolio standard of 20%. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has been assigned responsibility for regulating this market.
Western Wind has contracted consulting meteorologist Richard Simon to guide its land acquisition strategy. Simon has been active in the California wind industry since 1977, when he co-produced the first formal wind resource study of the state. He has conducted numerous other wind energy research studies and has personally sited approximately 4,000 MW of operating wind farms across five continents.
Western Wind Energy currently produces electrical energy from more than 500 wind turbine generators in the Tehachapi and San Gorgonio Pass regions. During the past two years, Western Wind Energy has executed or acquired over $1 billion of power purchase agreements (PPAs) totaling 189.4 MW from the sale of wind energy electrical generation, to three separate utilities. The company was the first to execute a wind PPA in New Brunswick and in the state of Arizona.
More information is available from Western Wind Energy, 604/839-4192, FAX 604/939-1292, Web site www.westernwindenergy.com.