The government-owned utility went to the market in April 2009 seeking 250MW of smaller-scale, local projects in which Quebec municipalities or co-operatives have at least a 30% equity investment and another 250MW from First Nations groups with at least a 50% ownership stake.
It surpassed the limit for the municipal block, selecting 11 projects totalling 267MW. Out of 13 First Nations bids, however, it selected only a single 24MW project. Those that were rejected were not competitive, says Guy Litalien, Hydro-Quebec's senior media adviser.
These latest purchases bring the Canadian province's total installed and contracted wind capacity to 3.4GW, all of which is scheduled to come online in the next five years. The total is short of the government's goal of 4GW by 2015 and, with dozens of project still in the development pipeline without a clear path to market, developers are anxious to hear how the province plans to fill the gap.
"We are asking the Quebec government to move quickly to draw up a complete inventory of these 'orphan' megawatts and launch a new procurement process," says Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANWEA).
Litalien referred questions about future purchase plans to Quebec's ministry of natural resources, which did not respond.
The utility will pay developers an average C$0.113/kWh for the energy from this new round of projects - all of which are less than 25MW in size - and calculates it will cost another C$0.02/kWh to transmit it. The projects will require capital outlays of an estimated C$990 million, including C$260 million for transmission infrastructure required to connect the new wind capacity.
Enercon will supply 193MW of turbines to eight projects, while the remaining four projects, totalling 98.4MW, will get their turbines from Repower Systems. Both turbine makers have manufacturing facilities in the province that will allow them to meet local content requirements.
Most of the municipalities with winning projects teamed up with veteran wind energy developers, many of whom are already active in Quebec. They include Chicago-based Invenergy, a major player in the US market that has set its sight north in recent years, Saint-Laurent energies, which is already building 54MW of wind in the province, and Boralex, a Quebec company with wind farms in France and projects under contract in its home province.