Opportunity for Atlantic Canada wind exports to U.S.

OTTAWA, CANADA - A recent study by Massachusetts-based Power Advisory LLC, commissioned by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), has found significant potential for wind energy exports from the Maritime Provinces to the United States northeast.

Ever-increasing demand for green energy in the U.S. presents an emerging opportunity for wind energy developers in the Maritimes, however there are barriers that must be addressed in order for Canadian producers to gain access to that growing market.

The study noted that that the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island could develop more wind energy than the region could use — between 5,500 and 7,500 MW. Conversely, just across the border, legislated renewable energy mandates in six New England states require significant increases in green electricity. Recent shortages of renewable energy suggest that New England will not be able to produce locally the required amounts of renewable energy.

The study estimates the New England mandates will require about 4,200 MW of renewable energy capacity over the next 11 years — about 60 per cent of which could come from wind.

"We see there is a huge market and we also see there will be a strong value for wind energy coming from Canada," says Jean-Francois Nolet, CanWEA's Quebec and Atlantic Canada Policy Manager. "The task now is to ensure our producers will have an easier access to this growing market."

Nolet says the cost of getting Canada's wind energy into the U.S. — specifically inter-jurisdictional (both provincial and international) transmission tariffs and physical constraints — are the main challenge.

Competition for jobs is another factor, as many U.S. states are increasingly interested in using wind energy to spur local economic development.

John Dalton of Power Advisory LLC agrees there is a window of opportunity for the provinces to take the specific actions outlined in the report for the benefits offered by wind generation development to be realized. A first step would be to put forward a united voice to articulate the benefits of exports from Canada.

"The Maritimes have a wind resource that can play a key role in helping New England reach its renewable energy targets cost-effectively," says Dalton.

"This can be a win-win for both regions."

CanWEA expects the Power Advisory study will lend significant support to the Atlantic Energy Gateway Initiative which was announced by the Federal government in March of this year. The initiative commits $4 million, over two years, to the development of additional renewable energy supplies in Atlantic Canada, and the selling of the resulting surplus energy to the United States.


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