New Brunswick has all of the factors for wind energy exports, say industry reps, and all that’s needed to open up the pipeline to New England.

“It’s great to have a whole bunch of renewable generation sitting up here, but if you don’t have the pipeline to get it there, it’s not going to happen,” said Wayne Snowdon, vice-president of generation with NB Power.

Snowdon’s comments come on the heels of an announcement by Shear Wind Inc. (TSX:V:SWX) that it’s studying the idea of building up to 1,000 megawatts of wind energy in two sites in northern New Brunswick.

The province currently has five wind projects totalling $636 million underway.

The cost of both new projects is estimated to be $585 million, and could pump as much as $2 billion into the province.

The company has asked NB Power to conduct in-depth studies of the projects and their impact on the provincial electricity grid.

Curtis Howe, chairman of the board of the New Brunswick Systems Operator, said the key challenge is the transmission system, and that’s what development is targeted at.

He said there are a number of private-sector players ready to invest to solve the bottleneck problem, in addition to public initiatives in New England, New Hampshire and Maine.

The investment would be significant, he said. Hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars, and not something a company would do without due diligence. But because the electricity market is competitive, “New Brunswick will have to be very aggressive and move quickly to attract the investment to bring those opportunities into the province.”

Still, he said, New Brunswick has two major factors working in its favour, aside from an abundance of wind.

The first is that growth in electricity consumption in New England is projected to continue at a rate greater than their domestic sources can provide.

“That’s a key opportunity for suppliers in areas such as New Brunswick,” Howe said. “The magnitude of that is such that experts in New England are forecasting a shortfall of 6,000 to 8,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 12 to 15 years.”

That amount is almost double the entire New Brunswick system.

The second factor is the reality that New Brunswick is a rural province, and has low population densities.

“So it’s possible to locate wind generating facilities without intruding on residential areas,” Howe said. “That’s a key advantage over New England in terms of being able to locate a wind generator without having concerns on the part of resident who don’t want a wind generator in their backyard.”

Ultimately, Howe believes that these factors allow the province compete with other major such as Hydro Quebec for a share of New England’s electricity market.

“You can assume there’s a chunk we won’t get,” he said. “But a 6,000 to 8,000 megawatt opportunity is huge. Even a fraction of that would be very attractive and bring lots of opportunities here in New Brunswick.”