NB Power, the provincial electricity production corporation for New Brunswick, announced on January 26, 2017 the launch of a request for expressions of interest to obtain 40 MW of electricity from local entities for contracts of no less than 20 years. Partners from outside of the province also may qualify for the program.
In November 2015, the government of New Brunswick adopted a regulation mandating NB Power to ensure that 40 % of total electricity sales in the province be generated from renewable sources of energy by the end of 2020. Entitled the Electricity from Renewable Resources Regulation, it also establishes the Locally-Owned Renewable Energy Projects Small Scale Program (LORESS), by which NB Power currently aims to procure 40 MW of electricity.
NB Power’s recent announcement is for the second stage of the program’s three phases. For the first two phases, up to 20 MW can be generated by a facility owned by one or many producers. However, two facilities can be located on the same site and together generate up to 40 MW if they are owned by different producers. Eligible renewable sources of electricity include solar, wind, hydroelectric, ocean-powered, biogas, biomass and sanitary landfill gas energy. NB Power is also open to other innovative manners to generate electricity that provide a “net environmental benefit to the province”.
The first phase aimed to procure 40 MW of electricity from Aboriginal businesses through a request for expressions of interest held from January to April 2016. 23 submissions were made, but as of December 2016 no project had been selected, despite the initial announced intention to proceed during the Fall of 2016 and begin operations this Spring.
The second phase recently announced by NB Power invites local entities to submit expressions of interest for projects of up to 40 MW until April 28, 2017. The term “local entities” is broadly defined and may include a municipal distribution utility, a municipality, an Aboriginal band, an association or not-for-profit company controlled by New Brunswick residents, an educational institution, a regional service commission, a partnership or limited partnership in which the majority interest is owned by New Brunswick residents and for which the benefits of a project accrue to such residents. NB Power is open to the participation of a non-New Brunswick company in partnership with a local entity, as long as the criteria regarding ownership and benefits are respected.
NB Power will not offer any feed-in-tariffs to selected projects. However, a public-private partnership could be concluded with local entities.
It is worth noting that a request for expressions of interest is not a call for tenders or intended to be a legally-binding bidding process. A submission will not necessarily result in negotiations, a contract or an invitation to a call for tenders. NB Power has reserved its right to negotiate individually with interested parties and to abandon the negotiation process at any time either before or after its completion.
Lastly, the third phase of the LORESS program is an ongoing process that entitles NB Power to conclude agreements to obtain renewable energy generated by embedded generation facilities. These facilities must be capable of being connected to the distribution system or must be owned by a connected NB Power customer. No request for expressions of interest is anticipated to be conducted for this phase. NB Power has already identified potential areas for generation and is currently receiving submissions for embedded generation projects.