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Samsung looking to build Lake Erie wind farm

Technology company mulling construction of 200 turbines on north shore of Ontario lake

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/samsung-looking-to-build-lake-erie-wind-farm/article1303087/

The Canadian Press: Colin Perkel - September 27, 2009

Giant conglomerate Samsung is apparently pondering a wind farmcomprising 200 turbines on the north shore of Lake Erie but the Ontario government would only confirm Sunday that talks with the Korean-based company are in advanced stages.

The proposed wind farm, part of Samsung's new push into renewable energy, would stretch about 25 kilometres from Port Maitland toward Nanticoke, an area considered to have excellent wind potential.

The Ontario government said the two parties have been involved in “months of extraordinarily co-operative effort” toward an agreement that would involve billions of new investment, including in manufacturing facilities.

“Both Samsung C&T Corporation and the government of Ontario are pleased to confirm that efforts are progressing well toward the signing of a historic framework agreement,” the government said in a statement.

“While the contents of the proposed agreement remain commercially sensitive, both parties can confirm that Samsung, one of the world's leading companies, proposes to establish a new renewable-energy business in Ontario.”

Part of the plan calls for the erection of about 50 of the 200 turbines on sparsely populated forest and scrub lands belonging to Six Nations, near Dunnville, Ont., Chief Bill Montour said Sunday.

There has been “nothing substantive” since Samsung and Ontario government representatives toured his area in late July but the project could be a huge boon under the right circumstances, Chief Montour said.

“We're not interested in 1 or 2 per cent of the royalties; we want to have a play in the project,” he said.

The chief said Six Nations has a reputation in steel erection, a facility for steel fabrication, and could possibly do some of the electronics assembly and maintenance on the towers and turbines.

Samsung would first put up six, 80-metre measuring towers to see whether a wind farm would be economically viable, he said. The plan was to put those up some time this fall.

Samsung could not be reached for comment Sunday and the Ontario government said further information would only be made available “once a framework agreement has been completed.”

To encourage large- and small-scale renewable energy production, Ontario's new Green Energy and Economy Act includes a “feed-in” tariff program — the amount paid to producers of green power.

Wind-turbine developers can earn about 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, roughly double the amount consumers now pay for electricity.

Earlier this year, Samsung Heavy Industries Co., the world's second-largest shipyard, announced ambitious plans to enter the global wind-turbine market in 2010.

The company said it planned to make turbines with capacities of 2.5 megawatts and five megawatts for a market it estimated would be worth $74-billion (U.S.) by 2020.

Samsung has already gained a toe-hold in the U.S. with a winning bid to supply Cielo Windpower with three of its new 2.5 MW turbines. It recently sought to recruit a senior project manager in Ontario for “early-stage development” of wind projects.

The company has also entered the solar-panel business, and both solar-panel and wind-turbine manufacturing in Ontario are reported to be part of the talks with the province.

Ontario's manufacturing sector, particularly its hard-hit auto sector, has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs in recent years.

While Premier Dalton McGuinty called the act a significant move to attract green investment to the province, the United Steelworkers criticized regulations that require wind-power facilities in the province to have 25 per cent Ontario content for the next three years.

“Setting the domestic content so low will not spur the creation of a manufacturing base to support this industry and will limit domestic job creation,” the union's Ken Neumann said last week.