First of Quebec tender online -- Bringing wealth

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The first of eight projects selected in Hydro-Quebec's 2004 call for 1000 MW of wind is on line, pushing Canada's total installed capacity to 1451 MW. Cartier Wind Energy held the official opening of the 109.5 MW Baie-des-Sables wind farm on December 1, the same day the project was contracted to begin delivering electricity to the province's power grid.

A large part of Quebec's wind strategy is focussed on regional economic development on the Gaspé Peninsula, where all 1000 MW of projects will be located and where component suppliers to GE Energy have set up four factories to help meet specific requirements for the amount of local content in each wind farm. More than 80% of the workers came from the area and 40% of the C$164 million project cost was spent in the region. "The wind project that we inaugurate today is a success because people of the area collaborated on it. It is also a success because the area has and will profit from the economic and financial repercussions of the project," Natural Resources Minister Pierre Corbeil told the opening.

A group of local activists, however, used the occasion to offer their own take on wind development in the region. According to media reports, the protesters complained about royalties paid to landowners in Quebec, which a recent investigative report by Radio-Canada found are typically two or three times lower than in neighbouring Ontario. They also repeated calls for a public consultation on how wind should be developed in the Gaspé.

Meanwhile, Cartier has begun work on the 100.5 MW Anse-à-Valleau wind farm, which will begin commercial operations in 2007. The company is building six of the projects awarded contracts in Hydro-Quebec's 1000 MW tender. Their combined capacity of 740 MW represents a total investment of C$1.1 billion.

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