The designated region, the Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine administrative region and the MRC de Matane, has now been considered Québec's wind energy core for several years. In fact, most wind farms as well as manufacturers, service suppliers, organisations, educational institutions – all dedicated to the development of this activity sector – are located there. It is also home to the TechnoCentre éolien, established just over 13 years ago.
The idea of a "designated region" came about in the wake of the first request for wind energy proposals issued by Hydro-Québec Distribution in 2003. The Government of Québec not only wanted development of this new industry to foster the emergence of a core of expertise unique to Québec, it also wanted it to be a tool that would spur the region's economic development. Consequently, regional content criteria were incorporated into the request for proposals and wind farm developers selected via this process had to make sure that at least 40 to 60 percent of the total cost of each wind farm was spent in the designated region – the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine administrative region and the MRC de Matane.
These regional content requirements included in the Hydro-Québec request for proposals by government decree have generated very significant economic benefits for the designated region. Reputed manufacturers have set up shop there to manufacture blades, towers and nacelles and to assemble and install components in the nacelles. In addition, bolstered by the wind energy industry, several manufacturing, construction and consulting firms have been created or have diversified their activities.
Regional content clauses have also been incorporated into the 2nd and 3rd requests for wind energy proposals. In both cases, at least 60 percent of the overall costs of wind farms selected has to be spent in Québec and at least 30 percent of the cost of wind turbines must be spent in the MRC de Matane and in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine administrative region. These criteria serve to enhance local economic benefits in terms of jobs and manufacturing investment.
THE DESIGNATED REGION – OVERVIEW
• 1,235 MW of installed wind capacity
• Nearly 1,200 wind energy jobs
• Presence of the TechnoCentre éolien, the Site nordique expérimental en éolien CORUS (SNEEC) and a structured industry
• Development of the wind power niche via the ACCORD project