VANCOUVER, Jan 27-- Long-term power contracts are expected to be awarded shortly to small clean energy producers in British Columbia, an official at the Canadian province's main power utility said on Tuesday, as the industry despaired at how long the process was taking.
"I expect that we would have a first tranche of awards in the 'Clean Power Call' very shortly," said Cam Matheson, director of energy planning at BC Hydro.
"I am not going to promise a date because I think we need to be out of that game of promising dates. I think people will be quite pleased with what we've got in the near future," Matheson told Reuters on the sidelines of a power conference in Vancouver.
BC Hydro was expected to announce winners last summer of long-term electricity contracts stemming from its 2007 call for clean energy suppliers. British Columbia has mandated that 90 percent of the electricity generated in the province must come from clean or renewable sources by 2016.
Companies in the running, some of which are small developers that depend for their survival on securing long-term supply agreements, include run-of-river hydroelectric developer Plutonic Power Corp (PCC.TO: Quote), offshore wind power developer Naikun Wind Energy Group Inc (NKW.V: Quote) and Finavera Renewables (FVR.V: Quote), a wave and wind energy company.
BC Hydro named a short-list in November of 47 producers, out of 68 initial proposals, for electricity supplies generated from clean sources like wind, water and waste heat.
Within the short-list, 13 simpler projects were identified as first up for talks with BC Hydro and the utility said it award contracts in December 2009.
"Come on BC, get on with it!!", Macquarie Equities Research analyst Steve Harris urged the provincial utility in a recent research note on Plutonic Power.
Harris said industry talk is that the delay is a result of BC Hydro "playing hardball on contract pricing, changes to the First Nations consultation process, and logistical challenges associated with trying to simultaneously negotiate 47 contracts."
As well as setting a 90 percent target for clean power, the province has also said it must achieve electricity self-sufficiency by 2016.