Local participation and open access

Local Quebec industry will benefit the most from "conservative" wind energy projects, including those fostered by Hydro Quebec's new ten year programme (see main story). So argued Jean-Louis Chaumel of the Rimouski Chamber of Commerce at a wind conference in Rimouski in late October. The advantage of such projects is that they are phased in gradually, allowing more participation from small and medium manufacturers, said Chaumel at Les Eoliennes Colloque et Exposition, co-sponsored by the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

The conference was well attended with 225 participants and featured the inauguration of a 10 kW Bergey demonstration wind turbine nearby. The event emphasised small and medium cold weather modified turbines, wind turbine technology transfer for local economic development, and provided information on European and French wind power programs.

Chaumel, active in the Energy Forum Lower St Lawrence and Gaspe Peninsula, was the conference co-ordinator and an articulate advocate of a strategy for regional and local job creation and economic growth in eastern Quebec. He referred to wind company Atlantic Orient Canada, a conference participant, which he said is aggressively promoting its wind turbines in Quebec and negotiating participation with local manufacturers. Moreover, there is a distinct possibility of France-Quebec collaboration on wind technology, due to their common Francophone culture, and a shared problem of electricity over-capacity, according to Chaumel.

A sign of the Quebec market's new lease of life for wind also came to light in legislation tabled by Guy Chevrette, Quebec natural resources minister, for an energy board to regulate Hydro Quebec and allow non-Hydro Quebec electricity exports for the first time. This legislation starts central and eastern Canada on the road towards wholesale transmission access, to catch up with British Columbia and Alberta, which currently lead the country in that direction.

Chevrette's draft Bill 50 will regulate Quebec transmission tariffs and allow private power producers in Canada and non-Quebec Canadian utilities the right to wheel their electricity over the Hydro-Quebec grid to the US and other Canadian provinces.

"On the threshold of massive deregulation of North American electricity markets, we must equip ourselves with the proper tools to meet the competition," said Chevrette's representative Shirley Bishop. Francois Tanguay of Greenpeace Quebec suggests that Bill 50 could facilitate wind electricity exports from the province.

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