Top 3 North American Renewable Energy Projects to Watch

Top 3 North American Renewable Energy Projects to Watch

Renewable Energy Projects are on the rise and proper stakeholder management and engagement are crucial factors in the development and overall success of the continually growing renewable energy industry. The latest REN21 Renewables Global Status Report highlights global energy transitions towards these power sources.  This list outlines the Top 3 Renewable Energy projects currently underway in North America to watch for based on their size and handling of stakeholder concerns.

1.        Peace River Site C Project, British Columbia - 

The Peace River in northeast British Columbia is home to two dams and hydroelectric generating stations. In the summer of 2015, BC Hydro began construction of a third known as Site C. The new dam and generating station will provide 1,100 MW of capacity and produce 5,100 GWh of electricity. That’s enough energy to provide power to 450,000 homes per year in B.C. The site will take advantage of the water currently stored in in the Williston Reservoir. With this water, Site C will be able to produce 35 percent of the energy produced at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam with only five percent of the reservoir area.

While the energy benefits of this project will be substantial, the stakeholder engagement involved needs to be noted. Engagement with Aboriginal groups in the area began in 2007 and will continue through the project. In the summer of 2011, BC Hydro began an independent environmental assessment by the federal and provincial governments. Three years later, the Site C project was approved. Despite the regulatory approval, it remains a politically volatile project.


Rush Creek Wind

2.       Rush Creek Wind Project, Colorado – Super Resilience

Xcel Energy’s reportedly $1 billion wind farm and transition line, the largest single-phase wind generating facility in North America, has began construction. This Colorado renewable energy project was challenged by stakeholders who wrote a report titled, “Irresponsible by Nature: No need for, no need to rush Rush Creek Wind Project," and involved a large legal settlement before it began moving forward. The project is now in line to install 300 wind turbines and 90 miles of 345-kilovolt transition line across nearly 90,000 acres of Colorado land. A global energy company that is devoted to wind projects, Vestas, has been contracted to supply the turbines, and large renewable energy contractor, Mortenson, will be developing the project. The resilience of Xcel to produce a projected 600MW of cleanly produced electricity to power roughly 180,000 homes, despite controversy, is what puts their Rush Creek project on our list.


3.       Duke Energy – From a Bad Situation to Saving the Environment

The next project on our list is a perfect example of creating a positive from a negative. Duke Energy recently announced a $6 billion Florida solar power project. Reportedly the announcement included the decision to close one of their nuclear plant projects due to partner bankruptcy. The company has announced that in lieu of the nuclear project, over the next four years, they will be installing 700MW of new solar infrastructure. The first stage of the project will be the largest solar plant every built in Florida - 74.9MW being produced in Hamilton County near the state’s capital, Tallahassee. On top of that, Duke also plans to install 500 electric vehicle charging stations and 50MW of battery storage in the state. Duke Energy truly took a potentially devastating situation and turned it into an opportunity to support renewable energy, landing them on this list.

The company has been applauded for its focus on stakeholder interests. Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, was quoted saying, "We applaud Duke Energy Florida for working proactively with stakeholders to embrace smart technologies that are both good for consumers and the environment." Accurately and effectively tracking and recording stakeholder interests allowed Duke Energy to make a quick and smart decision in the midst of crisis, providing us with a perfect example of the importance of stakeholder management. 

Given the controversy that can sometimes surround renewable energy, stakeholder engagement and management can make or break a deal. Not effectively managing stakeholders can lead to delays, vast additional expenses, political intervention, and even project cancellation. Keeping track of key parties, communicating with them effectively, and continually managing interests are all important aspects of a successful venture. Our Home page outlines the stakeholder management features included in our IRIS software. Request a demo here; test for yourself how our solutions can improve your stakeholder engagement.

Kristen Riley