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CUPE workers at Hydro-Québec have condemned the government’s decision to hand wind power production contracts to private corporations, many of them foreign.

The four CUPE locals represent 17,500 Hydro-Québec workers. Together, CUPE 957, CUPE 1500, CUPE 2000 and CUPE 4250 are calling for public production and control of all electricity in the province.

The unions have been campaigning to develop wind energy as a public asset. The campaign emphasizes how Quebec benefited from the nationalization of hydroelectric power.

Public control makes even more sense when combining the production of wind and hydroelectric power. CUPE is arguing that the management of these two energy sources should be integrated, not broken up.

The Charest government’s decision is a mistake and a step backward for Quebec, says Charles Paradis, coordinator of CUPE Quebec’s hydroelectric sector.

We condemn the turbine sites being chosen in a scattershot way, for political reasons. The financing and ownership of this project will come - for the most part - from outside Québec. In addition, the production cost of over 10 cents will have an impact on electricity rates - not to mention the cost to Hydro-Québec for integration into its network, and the rifts that these projects will cause in communities,”  says Paradis

The unions believe that a true wind energy development project, one that would have been efficient and cost-effective, should have been handled by Hydro-Québec in the north of the province, near existing transmission lines.

This public approach to wind power development would have benefits for the northern region and the whole province.

Jean Charest’s makeshift policy on wind power will hurt the quality and continuity of service in Québec,” says Paradis.

Source: CUPE Quebec