Description and Background
The Province of New Brunswick will (a) support local and First Nations small scale renewable projects; (b) integrate current and future wind generation in the most cost-effective and efficient manner; and (c) support promising solar, bio-energy and other emerging renewable energy technologies.
Local and First Nations Small Scale Renewable Projects – Local small scale renewable projects provide opportunities for non-profit organizations, associations, co-operatives and municipalities to develop renewable energy projects for the greater benefit of the community, and will play a significant role in achieving our new 40 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard. NB Power will procure new renewable energy resources through competitive Requests for Proposals (RFP) and projects will be evaluated on criteria to be released prior to each RFP. These criteria will include the net economic and social benefits to the community, cost of energy production, rate of return, business plans, size of project, and cost of integrating the generation into the grid.
As a reflection of our government’s on-going dialogue with New Brunswick First Nations and the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs with respect to their “2010 Statement on Energy”and the sustainable development of our natural resources, a portion of the RPS target to be met through the Local Small Scale Renewable Projects Program will be set aside for First Nations projects. In order to meet this goal, Government will work with NB Power and New Brunswick First Nations to assess the feasibility of potential projects under this allocation. Discussions will continue with New Brunswick First Nations and the Government of Canada with respect to sustainable energy practices and energy-related issues of mutual interest.
Small-scale, locally owned distributed generation projects provide optimal benefits to both NB Power and the local economy. They provide predictable revenue streams to their proponents and improve the efficiency of the electricity distribution system by reducing line losses. A phased-in implementation strategy will enable NB Power to meet the RPS in a manner that respects the utility’s current generation supply and help maintain stable rates.
Wind Energy – With 294 MWof wind generation capacity, New Brunswick is a leader in integrating wind energy onto our electrical system. NB Power has secured long term wind generation contracts at competitive market rates, providing clean, emission free electricity with stability against the volatility of fossil fuel generated electricity.
The intermittent nature of wind energy requires utilities to provide load balancing using other forms of generation. An additional 208 MW of wind generation is within our regional balancing area, which includes Prince Edward Island and northern Maine, bringing the total wind energy to 502 MW that NB Power is, through agreements, required to balance with its existing generation fleet. For a relatively small power system (with seasonal loads that drop below 1000 MW), New Brunswick has one of North America’s highest proportions of wind generation capacity on its system.
This comes with challenges and costs. At times when generation is exceeding in-province demand, excess generation is often sold at prices lower than the contracted price for wind. Even when NB Power is able to utilize wind generation in-province, there are sometimes missed opportunities to purchase energy from outside sources at a lower cost. With NB Power’s run of the river hydro system, there are times when very low cost renewable generation capacity is available but must go unused in order to accept contracted wind generation.
With the significant amount of large scale wind energy currently being balanced on our system, the next phase of our renewable energy development will focus on smaller scale projects with a particular emphasis on non-intermittent forms of generation, such as wood-based biomass. Wind energy has many benefits and will continue to be integrated in the New Brunswick balancing area, but in measured and manageable stages.