Shear Wind eager to expand in the Maritimes

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA - The head of Shear Wind Inc. says the partial launch of his company's Nova Scotia wind farm proves the firm can build more wind sites across Canada, possibly in northern New Brunswick.

"Anybody looking at Shear Wind... should understand and believe in our ability to execute on our projects," said company president and CEO Mike Magnus. "There were a bunch of hoops and hurdles to go through, but we made it."

On December 31, one-third of Shear Wind's 62-megawatt Glen Dhu wind farm went online.

That means the $150-million project, the company's first wind farm, is now producing electricity for Nova Scotia Power Inc. through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

"The first project is the most important one. It's a stepping stone for the growth we're planning over the next five years," Magnus said in an interview.

"It demonstrates the ability of this management team to execute and build out a successful wind farm.... It's a major accomplishment."

Magnus said the entire Glen Dhu site, located east of New Glasgow, will be up and running by March 31.

And by bringing Glen Dhu to fruition, Shear Wind has proven its ability to launch other wind farms, including in northern New Brunswick, Magnus said.

The company is looking to develop a 75 MW to 100 MW wind farm in Restigouche County. Costing up to $250 million, the project would create 150 construction jobs and 75 permanent positions, Magnus said.

The planned location, referred to as the Mann Siding site, is situated on Crown-leased land just outside the town of Saint-Quentin.

Magnus says the company is awaiting a request for proposals calling for more wind-powered electricity in New Brunswick. But it's unclear when, or if, that call will come.

In December, New Brunswick Energy Department spokesman Jim Hennessy said there are no current plans to commission more wind power.

"It's not as encouraging as I would like it to be," Magnus said.

"I hope their plans involve an RFP process in the future. We're investing a lot of effort in New Brunswick to be ready for an announcement like that," he said.

"But obviously we're not going to push forward without having agreements in place."

Currently, New Brunswick has 249 MW of installed wind power output, with an additional 45 MW scheduled to come online in February or March. That capacity is located on two wind farms: TransAlta's Kent Hills site near Moncton 150 MW, and the Caribou Wind Park near Bathurst 99 MW, which is owned by GDF Suez S.A.

Shear Wind, which is based in Halifax, wants to produce up to 500 MW of wind-generated electricity within five years. The company plans to start construction of its 100 MW Willowridge Project in southern Alberta in late 2011 or early 2012.

Inveravante, a privately held Spanish-utility conglomerate, holds 62 per cent of Shear Wind, which was founded in 2005 and initially funded by a group of friends.



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