Finavera Turns to Wind After Wave Plan Washed Away

Finavera Renewables, the Canadian company whose wave power plans were put on hold last month, said today it’s forging ahead with wind power with a bid to develop four wind energy projects in the province of British Columbia. The proposal includes C$800 million ($649.7 million) from GE Energy Financial Services.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based renewable energy developer is submitting the bid to BC Hydro as part of the utility’s 2008 Clean Power Call. Finavera said it plans to build up to 295 megawatts of wind power in the province’s northeastern Peace region.

The costs for permitting, public consultation and environmental assessment certification for the four sites will be covered by Finavera. If BC Hydro agrees to buy power from the the projects, however, GE Energy Financial, a unit of General Electric, has an exclusive right to handle the financing for the construction of the wind farms.

In October, Finavera’s plans for wave power in California were dashed when the California Public Utilities Commission denied an application for a deal between PG&E and Finavera for a 2 MW project in the Golden State. Finavera made headlines when it signed the deal last year, calling it the first commercial wave energy contract in the U.S.

Finavera still has wave projects in the works for elsewhere in British Columbia, as well as in Washington state and South Africa, but when the California wave power deal was sunk the company said that going forward it planned to focus its efforts on wind energy development in British Columbia, its neighboring province of Alberta, and Ireland.

The company raised cash for its wind power plans earlier this month, pulling in C$1 million that it said it planned to use primarily for the BC Hydro projects.

Under that proposal, Finavera plans to put up wind farms in Bullmoose, Meikle, Wildmar and Tumbler Ridge. The Bullmoose project is set to turn out 60 MW, with the Meikle wind farm expected to generate up to 118 MW in two phases. The company said Wildmare will be a 72 MW site, with Tumbler Ridge generating 45 MW. Finavera said it’s still in negotiations for a supply of turbines for the wind farms.

This would be the third Canadian project for GE Energy Financial, which already has a hand in B.C. power generation. Last year, the financing group backed a 196 MW run-of-river hydroelectric project from Plutonic Power, and has teamed up with Plutonic this year for another run-of-river proposal. The 1,000 MW bid, also part of BC Hydro’s latest Clean Power Call, combines 21 potential power sites in the province.

BC Hydro, owned by the provincial government, put out the call for proposals in June, looking for up to 5,000 GW per year of renewable energy. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, with contracts expected to be awarded by June of next year.

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