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Legault reverses course on Apuiat wind farm, calls it a ‘win, win, win’  

Credit:  Philip Authier | Montreal Gazette | Publishing date: Feb 05, 2021 | montrealgazette.com ~~

QUEBEC – Quebec’s energy future no longer depends on building more hydro dams, Premier François Legault said Thursday in announcing the return of a $600-million wind power farm on Quebec’s north shore, which he himself cancelled in 2018.

It’s just the beginning, Legault said, noting wind power projects have evolved to a point where they make more financial sense than costly dams and are part of Quebec’s plan to shift away from oil.

Asked by a reporter at a virtual news conference whether Quebec is still interested in building big hydroelectric dams, as it has done for years, the premier was clear.

“I think in the immediate future, the answer is no,” Legault said. “At a price of six cents per kilowatt hour … I don’t think any dam project will be able to beat that price.”

The statement is a shift from the standing Coalition Avenir Québec government discourse, to the effect that it wanted to harness more power from Quebec’s rivers as an economic development tool.
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Legault, in fact, was not a fan of wind power because it cost more to produce than conventional sources and Quebec was already swimming in surplus energy when the CAQ took power in 2018.

He promptly cancelled a joint-venture wind farm project between Quebec’s Innu and Boralex Inc., which the previous Liberal government approved in 2016. The 200-megawatt Apuiat project has been gathering mothballs since.

Legault reversed course on Thursday, saying the situation has changed. Not only have Quebec’s power surpluses dropped, but the province has signed export agreements with New York state and Massachusetts.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quebec also wants to develop more food autonomy, which means heating greenhouses in the depth of winter. And Quebec has big plans for more electric trucks and buses, and is giving subsidies to citizens to buy electric cars.
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Suddenly, wind power fits into Quebec’s green vision. The power that Apuiat’s 50 wind turbines will provide will not cost the 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour it would have in 2018, Legault noted. Hydro-Québec will be paying only six cents per kWh, which is 17 per cent less.

“Apuiat, for me, is a first step,” Legault said. “More will follow. To respond to future needs, wind power will be very important.”

He described Apuiat – which in Innu means paddle, a symbol of moving forward – as “win, win, win.”

“A win for the Innu community, a win for Quebec and a win for the planet, because we are talking about clean energy,” Legault said.

For the eight Innu communities that are 50 per cent owners of the project, the relief after waiting so long was clear. Leaders called the new partnership “historic.”
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“Apuiat is an Innu project, created by the Innu for the Innu, but which benefits all Quebecers,” said Mike McKenzie, chief of the Innu community of Uashat mak Mani-utenam.

On hand for the announcement, Hydro-Québec CEO Sophie Brochu told the Montreal Gazette wind power is a “complementary” source of power for Quebec, along with other options, including solar.

“The idea is not to be mutually exclusive, but to put everything – all the tools that we have – to use,” Brochu said. “We’re rich (in hydro power) and now we can add additional forms of energy production.”

Brochu said the agreement to buy the power “marks an important step in our relations with the Innu communities and our willingness to listen to the ambitions of Quebec’s Indigenous people.”

Construction of the project is to start in the summer of 2022. The construction phase will create 300 jobs in the region.

Fewer dams are already a reality. There is currently only one major project under construction: the 245-megawatt Romaine-4 north of Havre-St-Pierre on the north shore. It is to be completed in 2022.

Source:  Philip Authier | Montreal Gazette | Publishing date: Feb 05, 2021 | montrealgazette.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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