Cablegate: Quebec Ups Wind Energy Development

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 04 QUEBEC 0225

1. Hydro Quebec (HQ) is ramping up its wind power plan with an
announcement June 29 that the public utility is looking to add
an additional 2000MW of wind capacity, doubling the 1000MW
originally planned target. Premier Jean Charest, backed by new
HQ President Thierry Vandal and Ministers Pierre Corbeil
(Natural Resources) and Thomas Mulcair (Environment), told a
press conference that Quebec wants to harness up to 3500MW of
wind power by 2013 with new investments worth Cdn$3 billion,
mainly from private industry. 3500MW represents the power needed
to feed a city twice the size of Quebec City, or approximately
1.2 million households. The province's target is to hold 7% of
the total world wind capacity.

2. A request for proposals will be issued this fall asking
investors to submit plans to develop, own and operate wind power
farms in locations around the province. Presently, farms in the
Gaspe and Lower St-Lawrence regions together generate 1000MW
worth of power. Vandal said several potential investors are
already scouting for optimal sites; Hydro Quebec will chose
among these proposals based on quality of the resource and the
costs of integrating to the existing power grid. The new
target of 2000MW will create 4,000 jobs during the construction
phase and 800 permanents jobs once in operation.

3. This announcement comes ahead of the Quebec government's
much-awaited energy strategy statement due in August, which is a
follow-on to last year's parliamentary hearings. Natural
Resources Minister Corbeil said the wind project aligns with
that process and Quebec will furnish much of the technology and
equipment. Vandal said that two major manufacturers of wind
generating components, Marmen and LMGlasfiber, are currently
setting up shop in the towns of Matane and Gaspe, and the
provincial government is deeply committed to supporting those
industries. The Federation of Quebec Municipalities are also
eager; they "want to be 100% involved in the development of
energy projects and use the resources available on their
territories as economic levers." In a June trip to the Gaspe
with a Vermont gubernatorial delegation, the CG and State
visitors had the opportunity to see the wind turbines and talk
to local officials. Especially enthusiastic was the mayor of
Murdochville - a former mining town which was in such economic
straits that the local population voted in a referendum to shut
down the town in 2002.

4. Comment: While the media is reporting that "environmental
groups are enthusiastically on board," Hydro-Quebec President
Vandal sounded a more cautious note to CG when she discussed the
subject with him at a Quebec National Day reception. Vandal
said that while environmentalists and municipalities in the
Gaspe region are on board, Hydro-Quebec may be in for a more
difficult time in expanding wind power production on the
province's North Shore. The difference? The Gaspe - a huge,
underpopulated peninsula that has fallen on hard times --
already has a series of wind turbine projects underway. The
North Shore up to now has had only minimal wind power
development. While communities along the North Shore may see
wind power development as an economic boon, environmentalists
(who are not, in fact, based in these isolated communities), may
be more reluctant to spread significant wind power development
beyond the Gaspe.

© Scoop Media

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