First phase of Gaspe plant ready to roll

The first 76 turbines for Quebec's 100 MW Le Nordais wind farm on the Gaspe peninsula will all be up at Cap-Chat by next month. Turbine components from Denmark are being assembled at Boucherville, south of Montreal. In future the Boucherville factory will also manufacture parts for the NEG Micon units, beginning with generators and cabling and steel frames and shafts, says Andris Cukurs of NEG Micon USA. The towers are being built in Laval, on a C$10 million contract, by Canam Steel, a division of the Canam Manac Group.

Project financing of C$110 million has been secured for the C$160 million plant, being constructed by Energie Le Nordais (ELN), a 50-50 partnership of the Axor Group of Montreal and M&N Wind Power of London. M&N unites NEG Micon with Nichimen Corp.

ELN has been granted C$5.6 million by Investment Quebec, a government agency, to support turbine assembly and tower manufacture through a job creation fund. Eric Chaine of the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources notes that Quebec is the only Canadian province officially supporting wind power -- even going so far as to stimulate the creation of a local industry. "It would be nice if the federal government took a similar stand," Chaine says.

NEG Micon stresses it is a "specialist" in subcontracting component manufacture. "It is definitely NEG Micon's intention to procure components locally as this will drive the profitability of our future projects," says Cukurs. The aim is for NEG Micon's Canadian and US manufacturing units to supplement each other. The company also has a factory in Illinois.

The Le Nordais turbines will be fitted with an "arctic package" to accommodate the harsh Quebec winter, especially when winds are low and the units are not running. Cukurs says the modifications, similar to those used on the company's 750 MW machines in Inner Mongolia, include a heating system for the generator, gearbox, nacelle and control panels, low temperature grade epoxy for the blades, and frost proof oil for the hydraulics.

Le Nordais will supply all its energy on a 25 year contract to Hydro-Quebec, which in the first year will pay C$0.058/kWh. The remaining 57 units will be installed near Matane, 70 kilometres southwest of Cap-Chat, by December 1999.