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Manitoba site eyed for Canada\'s biggest wind farm

Manitoba site eyed for Canada\ s biggest wind farm
WINNIPEG, Manitoba - An upstart wind energy developer said this week it plans to build what could be Canada\'s largest wind farm in Manitoba, a province known for its ample hydroelectric resources. Sequoia Energy Inc. of Victoria, British Columbia, said it hopes to have environmental approvals, sales agreements and financing sewn up within the month to build a wind farm by mid-2005 near the central Manitoba town of St. Leon. The project would produce up to 100 megawatts, enough power for 40,000 homes, said Bob Spensley, managing director of Sequoia Energy, noting the company needs to line up more than C$175 million ($132 million) in private financing for the farm. \"From day one we\'ve set out to prove that large-scale wind power is economic in Manitoba, a province with among the cheapest electricity prices in the world,\" Spensley told Reuters. The company has been testing wind speed in the area for the past year, and is working with Global Renewable Energy Partners of San Diego and Germany\'s Windkraftkontor on the project, he said. Manitoba Hydro, a government-owned utility that produces 4,500 MW of hydroelectric power, confirmed it is negotiating purchase and transmission agreements with Sequoia. \"It is a technology which we have kept an eye on for a number of years,\" said Manitoba Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider. \"It\'s declining in cost, becoming more competitive with other forms of energy, and so we want to make sure we\'re taking advantage of it as an emerging form of renewable energy,\" he said. Schneider said the utility has seven wind monitoring sites of its own around the province, and has also agreed to study opportunities for wind power with Shell Canada (SHC.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) . Manitoba Hydro wants to see 250 megawatts of wind power developed in the province over the next decade, Schneider said. Canada currently produces only 312 megawatts of wind power, or less than 1 percent of its energy requirements, according to industry statistics. The country\'s largest wind farm to date, in southern Alberta, generates 75 MW of power. The C$100 million farm was built by natural gas and coal power producer TransAlta Corp (TA.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) and Enmax Corp. Story by Roberta Rampton REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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