Quebec support for wind energy strong and growing

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Quebec residents are strongly in favour of the continued development of the province’s wind energy sector, with the most enthusiastic support coming from those who live closest to operating wind farms.

A new poll by Léger Marketing (French only), conducted earlier this year, found 83 per cent of Quebecers have a positive view of wind energy. Almost 9 out of 10 agree the province could develop an advantageous expertise in the wind sector, as it has with hydroelectricity, while 77 per cent (up from 75 per cent in October 2010) agree Quebec should pursue further wind energy development after 2015.

CanWEA commissioned the poll to update a similar survey done in October 2010. Now that the province has installed its first 1,000 MW of projects, the association wanted to see if there has been “an evolution in their perception of wind,” says Jean-François Nolet, CanWEA’s vice-president of policy and government affairs. The results show support is growing.

“It is very good news,” explains Nolet. “It shows the good work that developers are doing. It also shows that we are delivering on jobs and revenues for municipalities and landowners. People see this industry is growing and is having a very positive effect.”

Some of the strongest support for the industry is found in eastern Quebec, which is the hub of the province’s wind development and manufacturing sectors. There, 91 per cent of residents have a positive view of wind.

“What we see in the report is that the closer you live to a wind farm, the more you like them,” says Nolet.

The poll results will be a powerful tool for the industry as it works with government, municipalities and other stakeholders on developing opportunities for future growth, he adds. Although the province has a target of 4,000 MW by 2015, there are no polices in place to drive development after that point.

“This helps show the government that people in the province do want further wind energy development. It is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning.”

Wind stacks up well with the attitudes of Quebec residents to energy in general, says Philippe Roy of Ryan Affaires publiques. “Usually when you talk energy with Quebecers, they only talk about one thing and that is hydro,” he says. Renewable resources like wind and solar are seen as “complementary with hydro.”

Quebecers are also supportive of action on climate change, says Roy. “They see wind as one of the solutions we have to propose.”