The Quebec government has put wind power generation on the list of industries eligible for assistance from the province's Private Investment and Job Creation Promotion Fund (FAIRE). "The FAIRE program can now be used to facilitate funding of new wind power projects," said finance minister Pauline Marois when outlining the province's 2002-2003 budget. "As a result it will be possible to support investment in the regions and contribute to the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
FAIRE, created in 1998, offers loan guarantees, low or no interest loans and, in rare cases, financial contributions to industries locating in the province. "If you have a business opportunity and financing is your only hurdle, then we'll step in," says Robert Davidson of Investissement Quebec, which administers the program. Although the program normally sets out minimum levels of investment and job creation that eligible projects are expected to meet, Davidson says wind projects will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. "We don't want to create artificial limits here," he says. "We are going to see from the people who are in this business what their requirements are."
Jean-Louis Chaumel, co-ordinator of wind projects at the University of Quebec at Rimouski, estimates the value of the program could be as much a C$0.015/kWh to a wind project, a figure Davidson could not confirm. That, combined with Hydro-Quebec's desire to begin buying 50 MW of wind power a year by 2004 or 2005 and the federal government's new wind production incentive of $0.0076/kWh, provides an "excellent opportunity" for wind development in the province, Chaumel says.
The Quebec budget also allocates C$1.9 million for three test wind turbines in the Gaspe region. The project is being developed by a consortium led by Montreal's Helimax Energy, which is working on adapting the French built Jeumont 750 kW J48 wind turbines to Canada's climate.