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Canada

Solid commitment from Quebec

A new energy policy for Quebec, including a solid commitment to wind power development and green wind power pricing, was announced as expected on November 26. The policy is intended to speed energy deregulation in the province so that Hydro Quebec's electricity exports to the US, valued in 1995 at some C$390 million, can thrive competitively.

The policy document, released by Quebec's minister of natural resources, Guy Chevrette, is entitled "Energy in the Service of Quebec: A Perspective for Sustainable Development." It is Chevrette's response to Quebec's major energy debate, a public consultation process which began in February 1995. The previously announced creation of a new Energy Board in "Bill 50" and a commitment that Hydro Quebec will not be privatised, are also integral to the new strategy and follow two key recommendations of the consultative panel.

The wind power capacity of Chevrette's new policy is to be determined by the Energy Board when it begins work, probably in early 1997. However, Chevrette's strategy is consistent with Hydro Quebec's recently announced set-aside of 25 MW of new nameplate wind capacity for each of the ten years beginning in 2000, for a cumulative total of 250 MW (Windpower Monthly, December, 1996).

Chevrette reaffirmed another pivotal element of Bill 50: the Hydro-Quebec transmission system will be opened for transit across Quebec to all Canadian and US electricity generators, including independent power producers and utilities. Referring to the liberalisation of wholesale electricity markets across North America, Chevrette said: "Quebec must be prepared for this major change. The Quebec government will take the steps needed to rapidly define appropriate new strategies."

No wind limit

The policy document gives private producers exclusive rights to develop new hydroelectric power projects up to 50 MW. Hydro-Quebec will remain the developer for larger hydroelectric projects. No capacity limit has been placed on new private generation using wind or other non-hydro technologies.

Chevrette said wheeling of electricity on Hydro Quebec's grid from one province to another, or to the US, will strengthen Quebec's arguments for reciprocal transmission access envisioned in Canada's Inter Provincial Trade Agreement. Hydro Quebec's grid may thus become a leading North American "highway for energy transmission," said Chevrette.

The enlargement of the private producers' role will contribute to diversification of generating technologies in Quebec. Chevrette said wind technology has already reached a certain maturity, allowing its integration into the Quebec energy system. The government will promote technical-economic studies aimed at better understanding the Quebec wind potential and will help with wind power demonstration projects.

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