Posted By Paul Jankowski Owen Sound Sun Times
Tribute Resources is continuing to look for land to lease for its proposed 240 megawatt wind farm in the Mar area as the company jockeys to make its project more appealing to the Ontario Power Authority, the agency which decides which generating ventures get the green light, a consultant with Tribute says.
“We’re still out doing some more leasing . . . We’re just doing some infilling to get more contiguous parcels,” Jennifer Lewis said in a recent interview.
The company announced last month that Mar Silver Birch Limited Partnership, a firm it set up to develop the wind project, has “executed options to lease lands with 35 landowners for approximately 10,000 acres on which to place the turbines.”
At least two other companies have applied under the OPA’s Feed-in Tariff Program to build wind farms on the peninsula, Lewis said.
Tribute doesn’t expect the Mar project to come online until the last quarter of 2014, in part because of the lack of transmission capacity to carry the power it would generate to market. That won’t be resolved until the new Bruce to Milton transmission line is completed, something not expected until late 2011 at the earliest.
Despite those timelines, Tribute applied to build the Mar wind farm on June 4 and put up a $2.4 million refundable deposit to back the project.
“There’s a time stamp. The way that it works is whoever gets in first has priority,” Lewis said. “So if we waited for three years and other companies made applications and there’s only a certain amount of (transmission) room, we wouldn’t be able to get a contract and they would. So you have to get in sort of a queue . . . and as the transmission become available, they give the projects to the people that were there first.”
Renewable energy proponents also have to prove that their developments are feasible. Part of that process, under the province’s Green Energy Act, is an economic connection test that weighs the cost of hooking up new power generation facilities to the provincial electricity grid.
The economic connection test determines whether the costs of the required grid upgrades to allow your renewable energy project to connect are justifiable and can be included in grid expansion plans,” the OPA says on its website. “If your project passes the economic connection test, it will wait in the FIT production line until the required grid upgrades have received the necessary approvals and the OPA is reasonably certain that they will be completed by your milestone date for commercial operation.
“If your project does not pass the economic connection test, it will wait in the FIT reserve and serve as input to future expansion plans.”
Lewis said Tribute applied to produce 240 megawatts “because that’s what we have the land for right now.” However, with other companies planning wind farms in the area, “it will depend on cumulative noise issues . . . we’ll have to agree to place (turbines) around each other . . . so it could get pared back.”
How many turbines would go up depends on the how much the technology changes in the next few years, she said. Turbines now typically produce between one and a half and two and a half megawatts each but they might be more powerful by 2014 which would mean fewer would be required.
Tribute is looking to build the wind farm itself if the company receives OPA approval, Lewis said.
“We are fairly small, we’ll need to get a major partner or major investor . . . Our strategy thus far has been to hold onto a piece (of the project) or take a royalty back when we sell so that we can grow the business by having cash flow” over the 20 years of the contract the OPA signs for wind power project, she said.