Quebec has 100,000 MW of wind energy potential within 25 kilometres of existing transmission lines that is economically viable in the short and medium term, says a new study by Montreal-based Helimax Energy, one of Canada's leading wind energy consulting firms. If only 10% of this potential was captured, it says, wind energy would account for more than 15% of Quebec's total electricity production. The study was prepared for the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) and a number of environmental groups to support their submissions to Quebec energy board hearings into the province's energy future. The hearings were ordered by the Quebec government after public protests forced it to suspend its approval of Hydro-Quebec's proposed 840 MW Suroît gas-fired power plant near Montreal. Over a 25 year period, an initial commitment to install 4000 MW of wind energy in Quebec would result in C$5.8 billion in investment and the creation of 62,000 person-years of employment, the study discovers. It projects that more than 70% of these economic benefits would remain in Quebec. Hydro-Quebec has already issued a 1000 MW request for wind power proposals in which bids are due next month. The energy board has until the end of June to hold public consultations on the options for meeting Quebec's growing energy needs and report back to the province's energy minister.