When Hydro-Québec announced the first request for proposals for 1,000 MW of wind energy capacity exactly 10 years ago, Innergex made the strategic decision to enter this new renewable energy sector. In early 2004, the company created Cartier Wind Energy with TransCanada Corp., a joint venture in which Innergex owns a 38% interest and a 50% management stake. In September 2004, all the projects Cartier had submitted under the request for proposals were selected, representing three-quarters of the contracts awarded, thus marking the creation of a wind energy industry in Québec.
The commissioning of Phase II of the Gros-Morne wind farm in November 2012 marked the completion of Cartier Wind Energy’s development program, successfully delivering five wind projects totalling 590 MW on time and on budget, and providing economic benefits to the Gaspé region in the form of jobs, voluntary contributions to the host municipalities, scholarships, and support for local tourism.
More importantly, Cartier’s development program has upheld the highest standards in terms of social acceptability, orderly development, and respect for the environment; it has become a model which other wind industry participants in the province have since adopted.
Cartier’s success could not have been achieved without the cooperation and support of the local host communities. “The people of the Gaspé region have been incredibly supportive of these wind projects” says Peter Grover, Senior Vice President – Project Management. “They have played a crucial role in the creation of an industrial and knowledge base in their region for wind energy.”
As the last of its projects under development reaches commercial operation, Cartier has already begun the transition from developer to operator, in much the same way as Innergex has done in the hydro sector. For Robert Guillemette, General Manager of Cartier Wind Energy, “it’s one thing to build wind farms, and quite another to operate them for 20 years. The proper transition to operations is critical. Our personnel are developing a whole new set of technical skills.” Cartier very successfully integrated the operations and maintenance activities of the Baie-des-Sables wind farm in 2011, creating in the process a unit specialized in the preventive maintenance and repair of blades, which resulted in lower operating costs and turbine availability in excess of 98%. Operations and maintenance integration continued in 2012 with the L’Anse-à-Valleau wind farm, and again in 2013 with the Carleton wind farm, as their respective five-year operations and maintenance contracts with the manufacturer expired.
Innergex firmly believes in the long-term prospects for wind energy and remains committed to its development in Québec, as well as other markets across Canada.