GE Energy Finance may double its bet on wind power in Canada?s B.C.

Helping British Columbia “Go for the Gold” in clean energy, GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE (NYSE: GE), and Plutonic Power Corporation (TSX: PCC) announced today updates on construction at the 144-megawatt Dokie Wind Energy Project and 196-megawatt East Toba River and Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project. Announced during a 2010 Winter Olympic Games briefing today at the British Columbia Showcase in Vancouver, these wind farms will be British Columbia’s largest independent wind power and run-of-river projects and will help the province meet its goal of electricity self-sufficiency by 2016 by using 90 percent clean domestic generation sources.

Additionally, GE and Plutonic Power are preparing to undertake a feasibility study on the expansion of the Dokie Wind Project to 300 megawatts, which would be the largest private-sector wind farm built west of Ontario. The partners also are pursuing the Upper Toba Valley and Bute Inlet hydroelectric projects in British Columbia.

“GE Energy Financial Services has made all of its Canadian renewable energy investments in British Columbia, and is helping the province ‘go for the gold’ with aggressive renewable energy targets and ‘green-collar’ jobs,” said Alex Urquhart, president and CEO of GE Energy Financial Services. “British Columbia has tremendous natural resources that are ideal for large-scale renewable energy projects. To realize this potential, we encourage the provincial and federal governments, BC Hydro and regulatory bodies to work with industry to ensure current and future clean power tenders move forward quickly.”

Starting the Dokie Wind Project

GE and Plutonic executives celebrated the official start of construction on phase one of the Dokie Wind Project during today’s event. GE and Plutonic jointly contributed and arranged C$227.5 million of project equity and debt to finance construction of the project which is located 1,100 kilometers northeast of Vancouver. The construction contractor, Mortenson, has begun clearing roads to access the site and prepare foundations for the wind turbines.

The 144-megawatt wind power project is expected to reach commercial operation by early next year and provide enough electricity to meet the annual needs of 34,000 homes and avoid more than 229,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel sources such as a coal plant—the equivalent of taking 44,000 cars off the road. The project is expected to create approximately 200 construction jobs as well as permanent employment for operations and ongoing seasonal maintenance requirements.

Nearing Completion of Toba Montrose Hydroelectric Project

GE and Plutonic executives also announced that the C$660 million, 196-megawatt East Toba River and Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project, located 190 kilometers northwest of Vancouver at the headwaters of the Toba Inlet north of Powell River, is more than 80 percent complete.

The GE-Plutonic partnership has nearly completed installation of generators and turbines at the facility, and a new electrical substation at Saltery Bay, which will be used to transfer power to British Columbia’s electricity grid, has been energized. The hydro project is expected to be fully operational by the fourth quarter of this year, with the potential to power approximately 75,000 homes and displace an estimated 455,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually—the equivalent of taking approximately 90,000 cars off the road. Since construction began in July 2007, more than 600 construction jobs have been created, with additional permanent jobs for operations and ongoing seasonal maintenance requirements.

First Nations Agreements

The Dokie Wind and Toba Montrose Projects are located in the traditional territories of seven First Nations. On behalf of the partnership, Plutonic has worked diligently to understand the environmental, economic and social impacts of the projects with the First Nations and to build tangible relationships with all seven First Nations partners.

GE and Plutonic successfully concluded comprehensive Memorandums of Understanding with the Halfway River First Nations, West Moberly First Nations, Saulteau First Nations and the McLeod Lake Indian Band in 2009 for the Dokie Wind project. For the Toba Montrose project, comprehensive Impact Benefit Agreements were reached with the Klahoose First Nation, Sliammon First Nation and Sechelt Indian Band in 2007 and 2008.

“GE and Plutonic are extremely proud of our First Nations partnerships – these agreements are the foundation for shared prosperity and ensuring that these projects are built in a manner respectful of the environment and culture of the First Nations involved,” said Donald McInnes, CEO of Plutonic Power Corporation.

Strengthening Government Support of Renewable Energy

The GE-Plutonic partnership has signed contribution agreements with the Government of Canada for both the Dokie Wind and Toba Montrose Projects under Canada’s ecoENERGY program. Last month, GE Energy Financial Services published a study estimating that renewing the ecoENERGY program—which has allocated virtually all of its funding for renewable energy projects—would more than pay for itself through tax revenues from the projects’ income, vendors’ profits and individual workers’ wages. Click here to access the press release and study.

GE Energy Financial Services’ experts invest globally with a long-term view, backed by the best of GE’s technical know-how, financial strength and rigorous risk management, across the capital spectrum, in one of the world’s most capital-intensive industries, energy. GE Energy Financial Services helps its customers and GE grow through new investments, strong partnerships and optimization of its US$23 billion in assets. GE Energy Financial Services is based in Stamford, Connecticut. 

GE (NYSE: GE) is a diversified infrastructure, finance and media company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. From aircraft engines and power generation to financial services, medical imaging, and television programming, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. 

British Columbia based Plutonic Power is a Canadian leader in clean energy development. Our vision is to create a legacy through the development of renewable, reliable, clean energy projects. Plutonic is a partner in 340 megawatts of hydro and wind projects that are under construction.

In 2010 commercial operations will start at the $660 million, 196 megawatt East Toba River and Montrose Creek run-of-river hydroelectric project. Active construction is also underway on the $227.5 million, 144 megawatt Dokie Wind Project, diversifying Plutonic Power’s clean energy portfolio.

Plutonic is committed to working in partnership with First Nations, stakeholder groups and local communities in the development of all of its projects. By developing its suite of projects, Plutonic will help British Columbia realize its goal of becoming electricity self-sufficient by 2016 utilizing 90% clean domestic generation sources, will create employment opportunities and will play a significant role in the fight against climate change.