Hydro-Québec has accepted 15 bids to provide a total of 2,004 megawatts of wind-generated electricity, which will come on stream between 2011 and 2015.

'When wind energy replaces another source of energy, it can significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gases, whether it's used domestically, or is exported.'

—Équiterre spokesman Steven Guilbeault

The government-owned utility said Monday the average price is 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour and the projects involve estimated capital outlays spending totalling $5.5 billion, including $1.1 billion for transmission infrastructure and transportation costs.

The contracts arise from a call for tenders issued in October 2005 seeking Quebec-generated wind power.

The outcome "ensures a supply of renewable energy at a highly competitive cost for wind power," stated Hydro-Québec chief executive officer Thierry Vandal.

The majority of farms will be built outside of Quebec's urban areas for the most part, will spur local economies in eight regions, the power corporation said.

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Quebec will triple its wind power production over the next decade. ((Charlie Riedel/Associated Press))

All the winning bidders have promised that at least 60 per cent of the cost of each wind warm will be incurred in Quebec, and at least 30 per cent of the cost of the wind turbines must be incurred in Matane in Gaspesie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

Hydro-Québec will now draw up firm contracts with the project proponents, which must arrange environmental and municipal permits.

The projects will undergo environmental impact assessments and will be submitted to the province's environmental public hearing board (BAPE).

The 66 bids totalled more than 7724 MW, about four times what the province was seeking. 

  • Montérégie: 2 proposals from Kruger Énergie et Venterre for 150 MW.
  • Central Quebec: 1 proposal from Enerfin Sociedad de Energia for 100 MW.
  • Chaudière-Appalaches: 2 proposals from 3CI and St-Laurent Énergies for 306 MW.
  • Greater Quebec City region:  3 proposals from Consortium Boralex and Société en commandite Gaz Métro (2), St-Laurent Énergies (1) for 345.9 MW.
  • Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean: 1 proposal from St-Laurent Énergies for 350 MW.
  • Lower St-Lawrence: 4 proposals from Invenergy Wind Canada, Kruger Energie, St-Laurent Énergies and B&B VDK Holdings for 606.6 MW.
  • Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine: 1 proposal from Venterre for 66 MW.
  • Côte-Nord/Mingamie: 1 proposal from St-Laurent Énergies for 80 MW.

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Many of the wind farms will be built in outlying regions.

Hydro-Québec could take more risks, but gamble is good

The projects will make Quebec a leader in Canada in clean energy, environmental groups said.

"Coupled with energy efficiency, wind power, one of the cleanest forms of energy, is without a doubt the most responsible way to respond to [energy demands]," said Steven Guilbeault, a spokesman for Équiterre, in a written statement.

"When wind energy replaces another source of energy, it can significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gases, whether it's used domestically, or is exported."

Hydro-Québec could have taken more risks, but decided to play it safe with its winning bids, said wind energy expert Jean-Louis Chaumel.

"[They are] clearly focusing on very credible, stable and safe companies and promoters, rather than on innovative or community approaches," he said Monday. "It's a political choice."

The huge cost involved makes established companies with stable financing more appealing, Chaumel said. 

One of the main promoters picked – St-Laurent Énergies – is associated with France's public utility.

St-Laurent Énergies will produce nearly half of the megawatts up for tender. Projects closer to Montreal and in the Charlevoix region weren't chosen.

With files from the Canadian Press