Advisory board plan awaits action

The Quebec Department of Natural Resources is gearing up to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the first of nine annual 50 MW wind set-asides from 2002 recommended by the Quebec Energy Board (Windpower Monthly, November 1998). "We don't want to wait three years or two years or even one year," says Sylvain Dube of the department. "We want to issue a request for proposals from the private sector as soon as possible -- and we will do it correctly. We'll have coherent, structured wind power development."

The department already oversees RFPs for hydroelectric projects under 50 MW in Quebec, he adds, so managing the prospective wind RFP -- instead of passing the responsibility to Hydro Quebec -- is only natural. This logic was also seen by energy board. For the set-aside quota for wind, the energy board, or La Regie de l'energie, suggests beginning with 50 MW a year for the first three years, but says capacity can be increased to 100 MW or even 150 MW annually in the remaining years.

The energy board also recommends that Hydro Quebec study the technical feasibility of integrating 1000 MW of wind power into the utility's grid on the Gaspe Peninsula -- the site of the Energie Le Nordais 100 MW wind project, which is under construction.

"Hydro Quebec specialises in hydropower," stresses Dube. "The kind of debate we're having now about integrating wind power with the utility's transmission and distribution system is the kind of debate held in Sweden and Denmark ten years ago." He notes the synergy between wind and water on Hydro Quebec's grid, where wind can help fill the utility's reservoirs and stabilise its generating system.

Nothing is certain yet, however. The energy board's suggestions await further action, shelved for at least six weeks until the provincial elections are past. Quebec's minister of natural resources, Guy Chevrette, has reportedly received the energy board's report favourably. "These are very good recommendations, and the government is looking at them very seriously," says Dube.