June 21, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The provincial government has issued a request for expressions of interest (REIs) to community groups and First Nations interested in developing community energy projects.
Through the REI process, proponents will have an opportunity to inform the Department of Energy of their projects and enable officials to provide support during the development stage.
"We heard a great deal of enthusiasm for community energy in the workshops that we conducted this spring throughout the province," said Energy Minister Jack Keir. "Today, I am encouraging all those interested proponents to respond to the formal REI, regardless of what stage they may be at with their project development. At the Department of Energy, we look forward to working with our economic development partners, the New Brunswick System Operator and NB Power in supporting project proponents as they move through the feasibility and project planning phases."
Interested proponents may obtain further information about the REI by contacting the Department of Energy at 506-658-3180 or by visiting the department's website, from where the official REI document may be downloaded.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A backgrounder on the provincial government's Community Energy Policy follows. MEDIA CONTACT: Bonnie Doyle Creber, communications, Department of Energy, 506-658-2410.
Backgrounder: Community Energy Policy
Renewable energy is cornerstone of the Province of New Brunswick's energy policy, providing economic development opportunities and creating sustainable communities. To support renewable energy, the provincial government released its Community Energy Policy on Feb. 9, 2010. The goal is to foster the development of locally owned and operated energy projects. It encourages participation from communities and First Nations, providing them the opportunity to contribute significantly to renewable and clean forms of electricity generation.
Community Energy Policy projects are defined as projects with less than 15 MW of generation that are 51 per cent or more owned by one of the following New Brunswick-based entities: First Nations, municipalities, co-operatives, associations and not-for-profit organizations. The first phase will allow up to 75 MW of community energy projects, of which 25 MW will be allocated to First Nations.
Community Energy Policy projects may be based on biomass resources, wind, solar, small hydro or tidal power. Proponents must demonstrate availability and access to the energy resources being considered and present a viable business case.
Successful proponents will sign a long-term power purchase agreement with the local utility, which will set the initial price of electricity at 10 cents per kWh. Proponents will be responsible for all costs associated with construction and maintenance.
The Department of Energy, with support from Business New Brunswick, the Regional Development Corporation and the New Brunswick Enterprise Network, will provide guidance and support to potential proponents that come forward.
The Department of Energy has two economic development officers dedicated to helping those interested in the policy. One is in northern New Brunswick, the other, in the south. A strategic development officer has been assigned from the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat to work with First Nations.
Eleven Community Energy Policy workshops were held throughout the province to educate interested communities and partners about the policy. The workshops, which took place in the spring of 2010, were open to the public and all interested New Brunswick communities, municipalities and First Nations.