Shear Wind Inc. is studying the idea of building up to 1,000 megawatts of wind energy in northern New Brunswick, a move that could pump as much as $2 billion into the province.

The Halifax-based firm (TSX:V:SWX) is studying two sites in the province, one at Benjamin River outside of Campbellton an another at Mann Siding, which is located between Campbellton and Grand Falls, near Kedgwick.

Both projects would begin as 150 megawatt farms and could expand up to 500 megawatts each, Shear Wind said Tuesday.

The company has asked NB Power to conduct in-depth studies of the two projects and the impact they would have on the New Brunswick electricity grid.

The two projects, in the first phase, would generate enough power for about 53,000 homes. If both were scaled up to 500 megawatts each, they would generate enough power for roughly 170,000 homes.

Both projects would cost a total of roughly $585 million.

“We’re planning on moving forward just as soon as we can,” said Louise Clarke, managing director of Shear Wind.

Clarke said the projects would aim to sell energy both to NB Power and to customers in the northeastern United States.

“We’re looking at all alternatives, certainly firstly to New Brunswick and we see opportunity to move into the northeast United States.”

Clark said Shear Wind is continuing to collect wind data and is doing analysis of both sites. Shear Wind working on obtaining all necessary studies and permitting in order to have the two sites development-ready by the fourth quarter of 2009.

The company already has a 60-megawatt wind farm under construction in Nova Scotia and is pursuing a 100-megwatt site in eastern Alberta. Shear Wind is exploring expanding its Nova Scotia farm to 170-megawatts through a possible power export arrangement.

New Brunswick currently has five wind projects totaling $636 million underway. The five wind farms will generate up to 330 megawatts and are part of NB Power’s and the provincial government’s push to have 400 megawatts of renewable energy, or roughly 10 per cent of the about 4,000-megawatts of power produced in New Brunswick, online by 2010.

A team of Danish consultants has identified the potential to develop between 2500 MW to 4500 MW of wind generation capacity within New Brunswick by the year 2025.

Yves Gagnon, the K.C. Irving chair in Sustainable Development at the Université de Moncton, said New Brunswick could likely only accept up to 800 megawatts of wind energy, or roughly 20 per cent of the total power produced in the province.

The Shear Wind projects will have to find a buyer for their energy, he pointed out.

“The fundamental question is who is going to buy that power and where do they want to sell that power,” he said.

Denmark, the global leader in wind energy, has set a target of 20 per cent of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2011.

“When you talk about wind energy, there are limitations in terms of the amount of electricity generated from the wind that you can integrate into your jurisdiction.”

Sean Whittaker, vice-president of policy for the Canadian Wind Energy Association said Shear Wind’s proposed New Brunswick projects, in their first phase of development at 150 megawatts each, would be among the largest wind farms in Atlantic Canada.

New Brunswick’s largest wind farm, which is under construction, is 99 megawatts.

Whittaker said Shear Wind’s proposed projects are feasible.

“From a resource perspective there’s no doubt its possible and much more is possible. It’s matter of whether they can get a contract,” he said.

“There’s a lot of interest in New Brunswick and certainly there’s a lot of potential out there.”