Wind power in Quebec: Fitzgibbon leaning towards private sector, but door is 'open'
Published Tuesday, May 30, 2023 1:31PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 30, 2023 1:38PM EDT
Quebec Economy and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon responds to the Opposition during question period at the legislature, in Quebec City, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
The door is not closed to nationalizing the wind power industry as Quebec analyzes the issue, but Energy and Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon says his preference is to go with the private sector.
The minister was asked why Quebec's wind power industry was not being developed by a public company, as was the case with Hydro-Québec's large dams, at an event on the energy sector organized by the newspaper "Les Affaires" on Tuesday.
"That question is currently under study," he confirmed, in response to an audience member. "Personally, I think the private sector is better than the state. That's my personal opinion."
The Ministry of Energy is conducting consultations on the framework and development of clean energies. The aim is to table a bill this fall.
Hydro-Québec will call for tenders to purchase renewable energy sources. The utility will then select the projects proposed by the private sector that best meet its criteria.
Hydro-Québec can also carry out certain projects as part of its generating activities. In March, the utility chose its own 159-megawatt (MW) project from among seven selected in two calls for tenders totalling 1,303.36 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity.
While the door is open "because at this point we want to listen to people," Fitzgibbon pointed out, in a press scrum, that the current situation would not lend itself to a nationalization of Quebec's wind power industry.
"We're short of electricity. Can Quebec supply everything? No. The private sector has a role to play. We're open to discussion, but (the current way of proceeding) isn't bad either."
The possibility of allowing more companies to produce their own energy is also being considered. "You have to ask yourself the question. I can't answer because we're in the process of consulting, but we need energy."
In any case, Quebec City would have a say. "We mustn't go the other way (too much liberalization), where everyone would do whatever they want," he said.
However, Fitzgibbon finds it hard to see how the private sector could handle the construction of large dams in Quebec. "The expertise in dams is Hydro-Québec. That's the value we have in Quebec. I don't see why we'd open that up. There are private dams that exist, that we can continue to supply or increase their capacity."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 30, 2023.