Pressure for distributed wind

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The Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ) has formalised growing calls for a standard offer contract (SOC) program in the province. On December 1, it passed a resolution calling upon Quebec's Minister of Natural Resources to adopt SOCs for a 250 MW block of wind power purchases the province has set-aside for development by municipalities.

The UMQ's Jean Langevin says offering a fixed price would allow projects to be selected on the basis of their local social and economic benefits, rather than solely on lowest cost. Municipalities have become increasingly vocal about their desire to see the benefits of wind energy development stay in their communities.

The government has responded by making equity participation in projects by municipalities part of the bid evaluation criteria in Hydro-Quebec's current 2000 MW request for proposals (RFP) and by promising a separate 250 MW RFP for community based projects less than 25 MW in size. But how the two will dovetail, particularly in the transmission limited Gaspé Peninsula, is not clear. Richard Legault of Montreal's Helimax Energy told delegates at the Canadian Wind Energy Association's recent annual conference that a competition for transmission and wind sites could develop between participants in the two RFPs.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association's Sean Whittaker could not say what impact the promise of the 250 MW RFP for municipalities is having on large developers trying to garner local participation in their projects. "I think there are certainly cases where municipalities may be wondering whether or not they should participate in the bigger projects or wait for the smaller project RFP."

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