The Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, the Atikamekw of Wemotaci, the Domaine-du-Roy MRC and Hydro-Québec announced a partnership for the development of the Chamouchouane zone in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, which could accommodate up to 3,000 MW of wind power capacity. This wind development initiative will become one of the largest in North America.

“This equal partnership perfectly embodies the vision we presented in our Wind Development Strategy,” said Michael Sabia, president and CEO, Hydro-Québec. “With our local partners, we will begin a joint and collaborative approach that will have benefits for all of Quebec. Together, we will lay the foundations for well-planned and coordinated wind development.”

This partnership, which could represent an investment of around $9 billion, is a very important step in the implementation of Hydro-Québec’s Wind Development Strategy, announced on May 30, under which First Nations and RCMs participate from the outset in the development of projects, as partners and shareholders. The participations will be divided equally between the community partners and Hydro-Québec.

“This historic partnership represents an important milestone in the lasting relationship that we hope to see develop between the First Nations, Hydro-Québec and our partners. Our communities must be at the heart of large-scale projects such as this one, particularly with regard to social acceptability. In this sense, the involvement of community partners is essential,” said Gilbert Dominique, Chief of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh (Mashteuiatsh) First Nation.

The partnership was ratified by a decree of the Government of Quebec on June 12.

Given the egalitarian nature of the partnership, the planning of this initiative will be done jointly by the community partners and Hydro-Québec. By choosing to be shareholders, the community partners ensure that they also benefit from independent revenues that they can invest according to their priorities.

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“Since the announcement of our government’s desire to decarbonize Quebec, several communities have raised their hands to become partners. It is together that we will achieve this and seeing today a project with such great potential, including two communities and an MRC, gives me hope for the future,” said Ian Lafrenière, Minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and Inuit.

Located in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, the Chamouchouane zone covers an area of ​​approximately 5,000 km2 and stands out for the quality and scale of its wind potential. In the long term, various wind farms could be built there. Starting next month, the partners will be carrying out initiatives that will confirm a first project in the zone, including the installation of equipment to collect data on wind quality and consultation with the community.

“This partnership represents not only a significant economic development opportunity for our community, but also a significant contribution to Quebec’s energy transition. It is a unique opportunity to promote the territory’s wind potential, while respecting our traditions and our environment. We are proud to participate in this ambitious project, which will benefit our current and future members,” said Viviane Chilton, head of the Atikamekw Council of Wemotaci.

The development of the various projects targeting this area and their implementation will be done progressively and in coordination with the evolution of the electricity transmission network. The entire development of the area will be the subject of consultations with a view to social acceptability and optimal integration of wind farms in the territory.

“This is a major announcement for our territory. We are proud to collaborate with the First Nations and Hydro-Québec to take charge of the development of our wind power potential in order to generate significant benefits for our communities. This project reflects our desire to focus on renewable resources in order to develop our territory in a sustainable manner,” said Yanick Baillargeon, prefect of the MRC of Domaine-du-Roy.

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The conclusion of this partnership is an important first step in the development of the wind potential of the Chamouchouane area. The partners will agree together on the optimal strategy for the future, including the participation of industry promoters.

“It is essential that Indigenous and regional communities work closely together for the future of Quebec. The Chamouchouane zone wind development project is another step towards an energy transition that will benefit everyone,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy.

Featured image: (Hydro-Québec)

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