Hydro-Québec adds strings to its bow

Hydro-Québec sets the table to become co-owner of its first wind farms. The state-owned company announced on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with Énergir and Boralex for the development of three projects in the Charlevoix region.

The partnership provides for an equal participation of the three companies in a new expansion of wind energy on the territory of the seigniory of Côte-de-Beaupré, they have jointly confirmed. Construction costs and profits are shared equally.

These are the wind energy projects of Neiges, whose deployment is planned in three different sectors of the MRCs of La Côte-de-Beaupré, Charlevoix and possibly La Jacques-Cartier. Each of the sectors would eventually have between 60 and 80 wind turbines, for a total capacity of 1,200 megawatts.

Hydro-Quebec would buy the energy produced under the rules of three contracts to “integrate it into the volume available to supply its various markets,” one explains in a press release. The purchase price will be “competitive” and “more affordable” than the Apuiat project, a spokeswoman for the state-owned company, Caroline Des Rosiers, told The Canadian Press, without specifying a figure, however.

According to the information included in the contract between a company uniting the Innu communities, Boralex and Hydro-Québec Production.

The details around the schedule and cost of the projects in Charlevoix have not been disclosed, but the three companies are talking about investments of up to three billion euros. It is specified that the decision to proceed with each of the projects rests with Hydro-Québec, depending on the evolution of its needs.

Soon under construction

With electricity demand strong and projects fairly advanced in terms of regulations, construction could start soon, the state-owned company estimates.

This partnership is in line with Hydro-Québec’s desire, expressed in its strategic plan, to build a portfolio of 3,000 MW of wind power capacity together with partners by 2026. The tender procedure will be continued in parallel. “Given the energy transition and the expected growth of electricity needs in Quebec, it is imperative that we have the necessary flexibility in terms of supply. The wind energy sector is one of the tools at our disposal,” said state-owned company CEO Sophie Brochu in a press release.

Boralex and Énergir have developed and operated the first three wind turbine phases on the Côte-de-Beaupré seigneury. The projects, which were commissioned between 2013 and 2015, have a total of 164 turbines for a capacity of 364 MW. Several studies for the wind energy projects in Les Neiges are underway and new information sessions are planned, especially with Aboriginal communities.

However, the agreement has been criticized by the Quebec Federation of Municipalities (FQM), which wants the regions’ communities to participate in the announced projects. Michel Lagacé, Chairman of the FQM’s Permanent Energy Commission, points out that this was the case for the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie MRCs during previous projects. “I can’t imagine that the government [en] would rob that of the Capitale-Nationale; it would be two weights, two measures,” laments the one who is also prefect of the MRC de Rivière-du-Loup, in a press release.

For its part, Hydro-Quebec will ensure that “during several months” discussions with the local communities about participation in the project. “We are currently discussing participation in the project with the Huron-Wendat nation, the Innu communities of the area, the MRC of La Côte-de-Beaupré, the MRC of Charlevoix, the MRC of La Jacques-Cartier and the municipalities involved,” says Mr.me roses.

Good news for Boralex

Tuesday’s announcement confirms that the Crown Corporation is ready to partner with “experienced” wind power producers such as Boralex, Judge Sean Steuart of TD Securities. “Even though these projects are still in their infancy, this collaboration provides another transparent source of growth. †

Overall, the analyst believes that Boralex’s participation in the three projects would be less than a third due to the addition of potential partnerships with municipalities and Aboriginal communities. He estimates that the share of the Kingsey Falls business will be 300 MW, or 25% of the total of approximately 1200 MW. “That would mean a 13% increase in net capacity,” he emphasizes.

This article was produced with financial support from the Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.

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