Open for business: Crown land across N.L. up for grabs for wind energy development

·3 min read
Newfoundland and Labrador is opening up all Crown lands for potential wind energy development projects.  (CBC - image credit)
Newfoundland and Labrador is opening up all Crown lands for potential wind energy development projects. (CBC - image credit)

Newfoundland and Labrador is pushing itself to be a leader in wind energy development, with the provincial government announcing its intention Tuesday to open up all Crown land for industry proposals.

Energy Minister Andrew Parsons told reporters Tuesday that multiple companies are interested in developing wind projects in the province, and the call for submissions to nominate areas for wind energy projects has gone out.

"Wind development in Newfoundland and Labrador provides us with opportunity for economic development and for job creation. We know the majority of jobs in this industry occur in the planning, development and construction phase but is also supplemented by jobs during operation and maintenance," said Parsons.

"The number of jobs depends on the projects that get approved through the process and obviously this will be an important part of the bid criteria that is currently being developed."

Parsons said the government will be holding a nomination information session in late August for interested companies.

"I know there are many questions from interested companies, from communities, from individuals and we will continue to be transparent as we roll out this multi-phase approach," Parsons said.

One such project has already been proposed for the Port au Port Peninsula but some residents have pushed back with concerns about noise and the impacts on businesses and the environment.

The deadline for submissions is Oct. 1. The department will then review and analyze land that wind energy companies are interested in, and then decide what land will be available for the first round of competitive land bids.

At the same time, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will be completing a wind integration study to assess how much wind generation can be supported by the electricity grid.

Parsons said those results will be made public "to ensure proposed projects are technically viable" before the call for land nominations closes. Parsons said the goal is to launch the call for land bids by mid-December.

Watch Tuesday's full announcement:

Each proposal has to go through an environmental assessment, but an approved environmental assessment does not mean a project will proceed.

Environment Minister Bernard Davis said all proposed projects will go through what he said was a vigorous exercise, parallel to the land bid process, in which 24 provincial and federal government departments and agencies review projects and provide scientific and technical advice and recommendations.

Maximizing benefits

The province will be putting a price on the use of its natural resources. Parsons said a "fiscal structure" is still being worked out.

"We're taking this one step at a time," Parsons said.

"Some companies have already submitted a request for Crown lands for wind development. No Crown land applications have been approved. Applications will be returned and we obviously welcome these companies to participate in this nomination and bid process."

Curtis Hicks/CBC
Curtis Hicks/CBC

There has already been some interest from overseas as countries transition away from oil in favour of green hydrogen, which can be produced by wind farms.

Parsons called Tuesday's announcement the groundwork for developing the industry in the province.

In April, the province lifted the moratorium on wind development, giving industrial customers the opportunity to generate wind energy for their own use and to use wind generation for export.

"The amount of work that has gone into establishing this — whenever you're talking about an absent industry, something we've never done before — has been substantive," said Parsons.

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