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Canada

Quebec finalises ten year wind plan -- Looking for 1000 MW

Hydro-Quebec will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for wind energy before the middle of this month, launching its plan to buy 1000 MW over the next ten years. The Canadian utility's Marc-Brian Chamberland says it will meet a May 12 deadline set by the provincial government for release of the RFP. It will also follow the government's schedule for wind power purchases, set out in a recent decree, which calls for the first 200 MW to be supplied by December 1, 2006, with 100 MW added the following year and 150 MW in each of the next four years. The final 100 MW must be online by December 1, 2012.

The government-owned monopoly utility had originally planned to buy 50 MW of wind a year for ten years, but a year ago the Quebec cabinet doubled that target, saying the industry could contribute significantly to the economic revival of the Gaspé Peninsula. The decree reflects the government's insistence that Quebec's wind purchases support the creation of a true wind industry in the province, with local manufacturing and job creation. It says that 40% of the total costs of the first 200 MW must be spent in the region, a proportion that rises to 50% for the next 100 MW and 60% for the remaining 700 MW.

For Quebec's wind industry, the RFP has been a long time coming. The last major wind development in the province was the 100 MW Le Nordais project, completed in 1999. Despite the lull, developers appear ready to respond. Companies applying for Canada's wind power production incentive (WPPI) have filed letters of interest for 20 projects in Quebec with a combined capacity of 548 MW.

Joint venture for jobs

Companies not on the WPPI list have also expressed an interest in the Quebec market. Boralex, a Montreal-based independent power producer, and the Société Générale de Financement du Québec (SGF), a government-owned corporation created to carry out economic development projects with private partners, recently announced a joint venture to develop wind in the province. Boralex Eole Inc plans to begin wind monitoring in the Lower St Lawrence and Gaspé regions. "We will not only be able to meet Quebec's energy needs, but also develop new expertise and new jobs," says SGF's CEO, Claude Blanchet.

SGF holds a 40% stake in the new company, with the rest held by Boralex, which has some wind experience, though outside its home turf. The company is a partner with French developer Seris SA in an 8 MW wind farm in Avignonet-Lauragais, near Toulouse in France, set to grow by 3.2 MW this year.

Boralex has also announced plans to build a C$17.6 million, 10 MW wind project at the Coquelles Terminal on the French side of the Eurotunnel once all regulatory approvals are in place. It has also acquired an 85% interest in Ferme Éolienne de Chépy SAS, which plans to build a 4 MW wind project at Chépy in the north of France. The facility is expected to begin commercial operations in September.

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