Building Community Power CO-OPperatively: A Renewable Energy Summit

Friday, 18 November 2011

Putting more wind in offshore project’s sails

Putting more wind in offshore project’s sails
Lisa Grace Marr. From the Tue Nov 15 2011

Several large Hamilton companies such as McKeil Marine and Bermingham Foundation Solutions have joined a larger Lake Ontario consortium to encourage the development of offshore wind power projects.

The consortium is called LOON — Lake Ontario Offshore Network — and includes a group of regional manufacturers and suppliers with the qualifications and skills specific to building large offshore wind power projects.

The aim of LOON is to put pressure on the provincial government to withdraw its moratorium on offshore wind projects, a move it made in February, suggesting that more scientific research is required.

The Ministry of Energy issued a statement suggesting it would be monitoring a freshwater project in Sweden and a pilot project in Ohio before lifting the ban.

It caused a tailspin for several green energy companies including Windstream Energy which had the only feed-in-tariff contract for a project to build 100 three-megawatt turbines in the Wolfe Island area outside Kingston. Each would stand 100 metres tall.

An economic impact study for Windstream last December said the total project investment would be $1.36 billion, of which $700 million would remain in Ontario. It would also generate about 1,900 jobs during the five-year construction phase and 175 operational jobs over 20 years.

Randi Rahamim, a spokesperson for Windstream, said the time has come to gather forces to get the government to lift the moratorium.

“New York, Ohio and other places in Ontario are also looking at building these offshore projects. These are beginning to move quickly and it’s whoever is first wins. This is to get the experience and the expertise to do these and turn around and sell that expertise to New York and Ohio. Ontario desperately needs jobs.”

Paulo Pessoa, VP business development, projects, at McKeil, said the company worked in 2008 and 2009 with Windstream, transporting equipment to Wolfe Island for a land wind power project.

He said the new larger project would likely mean employment for about 45 to 60 employees over three years to transport goods to the construction site.

“Offshore wind energy has lots of potential as an industry,” said Pessoa. “Everybody was disappointed about the moratorium on the project. We could realize so many jobs out of this.”

Pessoa said if the government lifts the moratorium; it could be several years before the project could start due to the need for studies on the environment and other factors.

“We need to work together and stick together. (The wind turbine project is) not going to be around other people, it’s not going to be an eyesore, it’s in the middle of the lake.”

Rahamim said the economic impact of the project would be significant for Hamilton in the number of jobs created and in generated revenue.

Other local members of the consortium include steel fabricators Walters Inc. for its underwater welding of towers, McKeil for transporting towers and cranes, Bermingham for foundation drillings, the Hamilton Port Authority for assembly and trans-shipment space and Samuel, Son & Co. as steel providers.

Rahamim said Windstream has requested a meeting with the premier to discuss the issue, hopefully before the end of the year.

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