Eight wind projects in several regions of Quebec will move forward, having been selected by Hydro-Québec to supply it with electricity, some as early as 2027.
The state-owned company announced on Friday the projects selected among the 16 bidders who responded to the call for tenders launched in March 2023. They will total 1,550 megawatts of power, the average cost of which is 7.8 cents per kilowatt hour in dollars of 2023, specifies Hydro-Québec in a press release. In the medium term, they will represent a significant part of Quebec’s wind production, which is currently at 4,000 megawatts. Projects representing around 1000 megawatts must also be delivered in 2026.
The regions affected by the new projects are Centre-du-Québec, Chaudière-Appalaches, Montérégie, Côte-Nord and Bas-Saint-Laurent. They are all carried out in partnership with local communities, mainly regional county municipalities (MRCs) and Indigenous communities.
Some of these projects face citizen opposition, particularly in agricultural areas. This is the case of those proposed by Boralex in the MRC of Arthabaska and by Innergex in the MRC of Lotbinière.
Rosalie Simard, member of the Impact éolien Saint-Édouard-de-Lotbinière collective, had a bad surprise when she heard the news. “There is only 2% of cultivated land in Quebec, so why do developers want to set up there when there are plenty of other places that do not jeopardize what feeds us and what feeds our animals? “, asks this emerging farmer.
For her part, Pascale Boislard, municipal councilor in Saint-Albert, in the MRC of Arthabaska, intends to regretfully sell her heritage house. She estimates that wind turbines from developer Boralex will be installed about 700 meters from her small farm, where she grows fruits, vegetables and flowers. She also fears the vibrations from the future transformer station which, according to her information, will be located nearby.
“I’m having a new baby and I don’t want my three-year-old boy to start his school life by taking his bus to a construction site that will last one or two years,” laments Mme Boislard.
The President and CEO of Innergex, Michel Letellier, recalled in an interview with The duty that several environmental studies, consultations with citizens and potentially hearings from the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) remain to be done for their two selected projects. He says he wants to minimize the loss of agricultural land.
A lack of listening to citizens criticized
Mme Simard believes, however, that citizens should have been consulted earlier by local elected officials who approved the partnership. She deplores a lack of transparency and listening to the municipalities concerned, which is also noted by Mr.me Boislard.
“Even if citizens are opposed, now that the project has been selected by Hydro-Québec, I have the impression that nothing can be done to stop it. According to our research, no wind project has been prevented by the BAPE so far,” indicates M.me Simard.
Furthermore, agreements have already been concluded with landowners agreeing to accommodate one or more of the twenty wind turbines planned for the MRC Lotbinière Wind Project. Construction work could begin in 2027, for a first delivery of electricity at the end of 2028. The company, the MRC, the Abenakis of Odanak Council and the Abenakis of Wôlinak Council will share any profits from the the sale of electricity to Hydro-Québec.
Daniel Turcotte, prefect of the MRC of Lotbinière, praises the economic benefits of the project, which he estimates at 4 million on average per year. “We have been demanding other options for revenue other than property taxes for years, because citizens are being strangled,” indicates the municipal representative, recalling that the Commission for the Protection of Agricultural Land of Quebec will also have to give its authorisation.
President and CEO of the Quebec Renewable Energy Production Association (AQPER), Luis Calzado reports that wind power remains the cheapest technology to develop to meet Quebec’s growing energy needs. He recalls that other calls for tenders will likely be launched by Hydro-Québec to add 10,000 MW of new wind capacity by 2035. Disappointed developers today could therefore try their luck later.