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CUPE Hydro Quebec locals’ two-day conference on Quebec wind energy is unpacking who is benefitting from the exploitation of wind power in the province.

The organizers support wind energy development, but believe it should be Hydro Quebec building wind farms, not the private sector. 

Instead, the Charest government’s wind farm development follows its privatization agenda.

Richard Perreault, Provincial President of CUPE 1500, the event’s host, said Quebecers - not foreign companies - should profit if there is profit to be made from wind energy.

Experts and delegates expressed passion and concern over the lost opportunity that privatized wind energy development represents.   Any environmental planning, regional planning and community involvement has been absent from the ‘call for tenders’ process for 2000 megawatts of wind energy.

Where a “made in Quebec approach” might have afforded the province local procurement opportunities and other forms of local economic development, foreign company-led development offers none.

And taxpayers will have to absorb the costs of bad planning and of relying on private financing and development.   “Our challenge is to preserve and expand public power,” Paul Moist told delegates. “Our challenge is to place wind power within a coherent CUPE National energy policy that is both environmentally responsible [and] creates jobs.”   Romeo Bouchard, writer and activist, argued that wind power would allow more democratic control over local economic development.

But the mega-projects envisionned by the province will do little for local economic development.

Jean Louis Chaumel, a principal of the Universite de Quebec Rimouski’s wind energy laboratory, told delegates that as problems with the megaprojects begin to appear, smaller regional projects under public control will emerge as the solution.