The global financial crisis has forced Canada’s largest wind energy project in northeast B.C. to seek court protection, in order to hold off creditors who are looking to recover $131 million in debt. Despite the fact that the Dokie wind energy project has a high credit rating (S&P: AA+, Moody’s: Aaa, DBRS: AA(high)), the project ran into trouble when its developer, EarthFirst Canada Inc. announced recently that it needed creditor protection.
The company’s press release stated that “EarthFirst’s efforts to pursue strategic alternatives has been severely hindered by the unprecedented crisis in the global financial markets which has impacted on EarthFirst’s ability to raise financing or to complete a sale of the company”.
EarthFirst Canada is important because its alternative energy projects represent 25% of Canada’s pipeline of new wind energy projects through 2015. If EarthFirst is allowed to fail, Canada’s ability to generate new jobs by meeting Kyoto targets will be seriously at risk.
In fact, the collateral damage caused by the global financial crisis has put all major capital projects at risk. Since every single new alternative energy project is a major capital project that requires significant lending, many of these important projects, like Dokie, are now at risk.
Rather than suspending Parliament, our country would be better served by immediate government action to provide federal loan guarantees for these alternative energy projects!
Dokie Ridge is located on the Rocky Mountain foothills of the Peace River region near the mountain spine that runs the length of North America. It’s location is one of the top-ranked wind resources in Canada. The Dokie Project is located approximately 150 kilometres southwest of Fort St. John and is adjacent to the existing 500 kV and 230 kV transmission lines which originate at the Bennett Dam.
The Dokie Wind Energy project is already under construction on Dokie Ridge after winning a 20-year power purchase agreement with BC Hydro in 2006. The project has obtained an Environmental Assessment Certificate, completed its engineering design, as well as First Nations and community review. The Dokie Project is structured in 2 phases: Dokie I will produce 144 MW followed by Dokie Expansion which will generate a further 156 MW for a total of 300 MW of green power.
By comparison, the next largest project in Canada is the 100 MW Anse-a-Valleau project in Quebec. All the wind energy projects in Alberta currently total only 524 MW, Ontario’s total only 491 MW.
The Dokie Project significantly adds to Canada’s wind energy output as it would be 30% of the total of Alberta and Ontario combined!
Europe was the first to embrace wind energy and now dominates the wind energy industry globally, with over 48,545 MWs or 65% of total global installed windpower capacity in 2006 according to Global Wind Energy Council. Within Europe, Germany and Spain have been the largest producers.
Germany had 20,622 MW of installed windpower capacity at the end of 2006, which accounted for approximately 6% of that country’s total power consumption.
Spain had 11,615MW installed windpower capacity at the end of 2006, which accounted for approximately 9% of its total power consumption.
North America accounted for 13,062 MWs in 2006 which represents less than 1% of total power consumption. The USA expanded its wind energy production by 45% in 2007 and currently produces 16,818 MW of power from wind.
GWEC reports that Canada has 1,846 MW of wind energy production in 2007. As shown below Canadian provincial electrical utilities are currently seeking to commission 10,000 MW installed windpower capacity by 2015.
EarthFirst Canada represents 2,500 MW or 25% of this total and Dokie is it’s leading project. Dokie alone would add 16% to Canada’s current wind energy generation capacity.