Hydro-Québec’s future energy focus is literally blowing in the wind. And the new policy could be a win-win situation for the Cree.
Premier Jean Charest and Hydro President Thierry Vandel announced June 29 that Quebec is poised to become a world leader in the production of wind power.
“If you want to assume a leadership position, you act now. You don’t wait,” Premier Charest said in a story that appeared in the Gazette.
Grand Council spokesman Brian Craik admitted to not knowing much about the announcement, but said the Grand Council supported the decision. “It’s great that Hydro will be producing wind power,” he said. “If they want to do that, great for them.”
Some of the leaders in the Cree world started exploring the possibility of producing wind power last year as a viable economic alternative for the Cree Nation. The James Bay coast is one of the windiest places in Canada. More wind power could also mean less reliance on hydro dams.
The Quebec government had already given the okay to 1,000 wind energy contracts for the private sector last winter. The extra 2,000 megawatts is expected to generate $3 billion in private-sector investments and hundreds of jobs for Quebec residents.
“Alongside that $3 billion, there will be certain investments that Hydro-Québec is going to have to make, in terms of upgrading and integrating the power capacity on the grid,” Thierry said. “It’s really hard to put a number on that today. It’s really going to become clear once we know where these projects are taking shape.”
Charest stated that 3,500 megawatts of electricity – which represents 7 per cent of the current global production -would make Quebec a world leader.
Craik added that if the Cree wanted to produce wind power in the future, they would have to negotiate with Hydro-Quebec to do so.