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New Brunswick government unveils document showing improvement in community energy policy


January 11, 2011
By Alyssa Dalton

The New Brunswick government has unveiled a new resource document to help interested proponents develop community energy projects. Getting to the Tipping Point, released on August 18 2010 by the Department of Energy, provides financial information about developing a wind energy project, including advice about financing a smaller-scale wind farm.

“This document will be a terrific resource for proponents who are actively planning a community energy project as well as those who are simply exploring the concept,” said Jack Keir, energy minister.

Keir also announced a change to the proposed feed-in-tariff (FIT) for community energy projects developed in New Brunswick. The community energy FIT will consist of an initial price of 10 cents per kWh, with 70 percent of the FIT increasing annually with the New Brunswick Consumer Price Index beginning in 2011, as opposed to 2015.

“The change to the FIT is good news for those interested in developing community energy projects because this move will provide additional revenue to projects in the initial years,” Keir said. “Getting to the Tipping Point clearly indicates that well-planned wind energy projects with strong wind energy resources are viable and can produce a positive rate of return over a 20- to 25-year period under the proposed community energy FIT.”

The provincial government issued a request for expressions of interest to community groups and First Nations on June 21. By mid-August, 12 groups and organizations had expressed interest in developing community energy projects, eight of which are in northern New Brunswick. The submissions represent a total capital investment of more than $300 million, including $200 million in northern New Brunswick.

“There has been a very positive interest in community energy since we released the request for expressions of interest in June, particularly from the north,” said Keir.

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, where the official REI document may be downloaded.

Community energy is an element of the provincial government’s renewable energy strategy, and it supports regional economic development and the goal of creating sustainable communities through locally owned and operated energy projects.