NGOs Call for Renewable Energy Tariff in Quebec

With “Quebeckers” heading to the election polls today, three groups representing municipalities in the Canadian province of Quebec are calling on the next government to vigorously lead the development of renewable energy in North America.

The Conseil quebecois de la cooperation, the Federation Quebecoise des Municipalites (FQM), and the Union des municipalites du Quebec (UMQ) have called on whichever party forms the next government to launch a new program that supports community development of renewable energy. The new program should include three key elements, say the NGOs [non-governmental organizations]. — First, guaranteed purchase and connection to the network: In contrast to the current government’s call for tenders, developers of renewable energy should be guaranteed the ability to sell electricity to the grid without limits as long as there is the ability to take the power. — Second, a fixed purchase-price known in advance: In contrast to the current call for tenders, the purchase price of the electricity should be determined in advance. In the most advanced programs, the purchase price is differentiated by the source of the electricity (wind, solar, biogas, and so on), and by the quality of the energy resource where the generator is located. Such programs are often called Advanced Renewable Tariffs. — Third, limit on project size: Above a certain project size, contracts will continue to be awarded by a call for tenders. Many jurisdictions use similar dual systems: fixed purchase price for small projects, and a call for tenders for large projects. Referring to the French and German examples, the provincial organizations are united in hoping that the future government will put Quebec in a leadership position internationally in the development of renewable energy and place communities and regions at the center of this development. The current Charest government (Liberal Party of Quebec) has launched two calls for tender for wind development: one for 1,000 MW and a second for 2,000 MW. The first tranche was awarded and the projects are operating or under construction. The second tranche will not be awarded until after the election. In addition, the current government announced that 250 MW will be set aside for First Nations and a second 250 MW will be set aside for “municipalities”. However, no action has been taken by the Charest government on either 250 MW set aside. Several Quebec municipalities have called for implementation of a system of Advanced Renewable Tariffs for the 250 MW municipal tranche. Paul Gipe is a wind industry analyst who has written extensively about wind energy for both the popular and trade press; Nancy Nies is an ATA accredited translator of French to English.
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