Canada - CNE windmill declares first dividends

Besides clean energy it yields $32,000 for 427 investors/ Project's planning was subsidized but the generator is not

That giant three-bladed propeller at the Canadian National Exhibition has not quite gone from White Elephant to Cash Cow with the disbursement of $32,000 in dividends to investors, but it's a welcome breath of fresh air for alternative energy proponents. About 100 of Windshare's shareholders got the good news during their annual general meeting last week at Walmer Road Baptist Church. It was a fitting location because when the project was first discussed in 1997, mainstream opinion was that a profitable wind turbine did not have a prayer. David MacLeod, president of Windshare, told the group, the project has displaced about 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

It bills itself as North America's first urban wind turbine and is an "iconic," basically symbolic project, according to MacLeod who says it's also an attraction to many visiting delegations from other countries. But it's paying. Among those getting cheques — $4 for each share owned — are the Daily Bread Food Bank and Foodshare, which will collect $4,000 each. "An anonymous donor bought the shares and put them in those organizations' names with the idea that when the project was viable they would reap revenue from it," said MacLeod. All told 427 investors collectively raised $800,000 to buy the initial 8,000 shares in the 750-kilowatt generator, which has now been running for just over two years.

While Windshare shareholders are getting a payment, the turbine at the CNE is 50 per cent owned by Toronto Hydro Energy Services, a Toronto Hydro subsidiary, in an arrangement where Hydro gets half the revenue from power sold to the grid but doesn't get dividends. While Canada is far behind European adoption of wind power generation, it is making headway, said Robert Hornung of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). Last fall's Bill 100, which restructured the Ontario energy market, also set targets for alternative energy to contribute to the grid, he said. "In fact we're suggesting the province should double the target of 2,700 megawatts by 2010," said Hornung. "We think 5,400 megawatts is attainable — about 10 per cent of demand." Four companies were chosen to develop five wind power projects in Ontario, generating a collective 354.6 megawatts of green power. Large players such as General Electric have invested resources in designing and building wind turbines while other big corporate players such as Brascan, Suncor, Talisman, TransCanada Pipelines and Enbridge also bellied up to the bar and staked out their interests.
www.windfair.net, Online editorial
Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
Canada, wind energy, renewable energy, wind turbine, wind farm, offshore, onshore, rotor blade

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