November 19, 2013 marked the start of commercial operation for the Viger-Denonville community wind farm, co-owned by Innergex and the Rivière-du-Loup Regional County Municipality (RCM). This achievement was celebrated a few days later with an official inauguration ceremony, where the atmosphere was one of shared pride, belonging and friendship. The ceremony reflected the bonds that have formed between the people of Innergex and the people of this community. Mutual respect, attentiveness, transparency and honesty have typified the day-to-day contacts between company representatives and community members – to the point that the gathering for the inauguration felt more like a family reunion than an official ceremony.
For this project, Innergex was particularly aware that relations with the host communities had to get off on the right foot. A previous attempt to develop a wind project with another promoter had failed, leaving the local people full of misgivings. So right from day one, when the people of the RCM and Innergex first made contact in 2006, efforts were made to build genuine collaboration between the two partners. This collaboration can be seen in the fact that local landowners agreed to host the twelve wind turbines of this project sited entirely on private land. It can also be seen in the fact that 26 local businesses from across the RCM were involved in the construction work, a testament to the partners’ drive to maximize the project’s local benefits.
And it can be seen once more in the fact that Jean-Sébastien Roy, a young local resident and an electrician by trade, has been hired as the wind farm’s operator. According to Philippe Dionne, mayor of Saint-Paul-de-la-Croix, “people are happy because they were consulted every step of the way during the realization of this project.”
It’s all in the details
Innergex bought the old presbytery in Saint-Paul-de-la-Croix from a local resident, with the intention of converting it into the project operations office. Not long afterwards, however, the building suffered considerable water damage and major renovations were in order. Much of the building’s interior had to be ripped out, decontaminated and renovated, and the heating system needed to be replaced. At first, Innergex considered modernizing the interior. However, the company soon realized how important it was to people like Philippe Dionne, Michel Lagacé (warden of the Rivière-du-Loup RCM) and Mélanie Milot (the RCM’s heritage officer) that the heritage quality of this building be preserved, even though it wasn’t officially classified as a heritage building. So the partners worked hard to preserve its historic cachet during the renovations.