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Wind development attracts 19 bidders

Wind energy is expected to play a large role in the provincial economy. – via GovNL

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WEST COAST — On Dec. 14, 2022, the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET) announced the Crown Land Call for Bids for wind energy development across the province. The call for bids was made to ensure the development and use of Crown lands within the province for wind energy projects would be done in a manner that will ensure the greatest long-term benefit for residents across the province. Development projects can include wind turbines, permanent buildings, plant facilities, roads and transmission lines, and hydrogen and ammonia production facilities. The areas available for development will not include any areas designated as protected water supplies under the Water Resource Act. The bids were due by noon on Mar. 23, 2023, and Minister Andrew Parsons (IET) revealed that there was considerable interest. “There were 19 separate bids, and we’re now in Phase One of the assessment, which is just determining if they are feasible or not in the sense of, do they have the financing, did they meet the criteria set out, did they follow the template, and then, depending on what comes out of Phase One, then we will go into an even tighter analysis in Phase Two, which will move into May. And we’re still hoping to have announcements made toward the end of June for which bids were successful and in which areas,” said Parsons. A Phase One review will be based on multiple criteria, including the experience of the bidder, the project itself, and the financial capacity to plan, construct, and operate their proposed project. Bidders must pass the Phase One review to Phase Two of the development process. On Friday, Mar. 24, representatives for the Dept. of IET said the entire process is being kept as equitable as possible. “To ensure a fair, transparent, and competitive approval process, the document, “Guidelines: Crown Land Calls for Bids for Wind Energy Projects” was developed to outline the information that would be required of bidders, and how bids would be evaluated. In addition, following a Request for Quotation for the Fairness Advisor, which closed on February 6, 2023, Optimus SBR Inc. has been appointed to the role to assist in the evaluation of the Crown Land Call for Bids. The Fairness Advisor will be a neutral party throughout the Call for Bids process, and will support the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology by providing independent, arm’s-length oversight and evaluation expertise. “Successful bidders will be granted an exclusive right to pursue the development of their project through the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown land application and approval process. These lands will be held in reserve until that process is completed. “Environmental Assessment registration is not required during the call for land bids phase; however, prior to final award of Crown land, an environmental assessment will be required for wind projects over one megawatt. “The Provincial Government launched the Renewable Energy Plan in December 2021. One of the short-term commitments in the plan was to review the wind moratorium policy on the Island Interconnected Electricity System. Lifting this moratorium was the initial step in this multi-stage process to enable wind energy development in Newfoundland and Labrador.” The wind energy guidelines set by the province were released via an extensive 28-page document that provided a template for all interested developers. All bids were required to have information on the bidder, the project itself, project risk mitigation, electricity considerations and grid, community and Indigenous engagement, benefits, project schedule, and financing. Required information included:

  1. Details of ownership of company, financial statements, and project team and partners.

  2. Project summary, monetary value, how wind data will be collected, detail on selected crown lands, size/type of turbines and other proposed infrastructure, what the wind energy will be used for, and water requirements.

  3. Benefits expected for the community as a result of the project

  4. Development plan and schedule for each phase of the project. To date, no information has been released surrounding the proposed locations, nor the companies who have submitted a bid. “That part we’re keeping in house at the moment. Part of it is some of it’s commercially sensitive and we aren’t allowed to say anything yet. We’re not sure what we’re going to release, but I was extremely pleased. When you get 19 bids coming in encompassing various areas in the province, we feel we are on the right track,” said Parsons. “I can’t wait to talk more about it, but right now we are still in the early stages so I’ve got to hold off.”

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