On December 19, 2022, Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, announced that the calls for tenders for a 1,000-megawatt block of wind energy and a 1,300-megawatt block of renewable energy, which were supposed to be launched by Hydro-Québec no later than December 31, 2022, were being postponed. As stated by Mr. Fitzgibbon, the calls for tenders were postponed to allow Hydro-Québec to better identify geographical locations where grid capacity remains available or where an upgrade can be made quickly in a way to ensure that the connection of future projects to Hydro-Québec's network will be efficient. To this effect, Hydro-Québec was mandated to put in place a revised supply strategy, which shall include a precise mapping of the grid capacity that will allow the development of wind power projects in strategic geographical locations and a better predictability for the industry.

In a subsequent press release, Hydro-Québec announced that a new strategy, with the participation of the industry and community partners, will be implemented and that the tenders that were to be launched would be cancelled in their current form. Instead, a new mechanism is to be put in place, which will target the development of more than 4,000 megawatts of wind energy only. According to the Hydro-Québec's Electricity Supply Plan for 2023-2032 ("Hydro-Québec's Supply Plan"), Québec's demand for electricity will increase by 14% over the next ten years which will require a significant increase in electricity production, which will largely be achieved through increased supply that will come from the wind sector.

1,500-megawatt block of wind energy

Following the postponement of the calls for tenders, the Québec government published on February 23, 2023 draft Regulation respecting a 1,500-megawatt block of wind energy ("Regulation 1,500") in the Gazette Officielle du Québec. Regulation 1,500 provides that Hydro-Québec shall issue a call for tenders for a 1,500-megawatt block of wind energy. Regulation 1500 further stipulates that the 1,500-megawatt block of wind energy must be connected to Hydro-Québec's main grid between December 1, 2027 and December 1, 2029 and that the tender for solicitations must be issued by Hydro-Québec no later than March 31, 2023. Regulation 1500 does not currently stipulate a maximum cost for the supply of electric power.

As stated in Regulation 1,500, the Québec government considers that the call for tenders and the connection of the 1,500-megawatt block of wind energy to the main grid must respect the deadlines referred to therein to ensure that part of Québec's energy needs as laid out in Hydro-Québec's Supply Plan will be met.

Of note, Regulation 1,500 could possibly be supplemented later on by the publication of an Order-in-Council or a Memorandum which could provide further details, such as the project's objectives regarding regional content, payments to be made to the local communities where projects will be located and other similar aspects accounted for and recently seen in the previous calls for tenders.

More Calls for Tenders to Come

While participating in a conference hosted by the Association québécoise de la production d'énergie renouvelable on February 21, 2023, Mr. Fitzgibbon stated that with Québec's anticipated increase in energy needs, Hydro-Québec's surplus of energy capacity will become a "thing of the past". Mr. Fitzgibbon also mentioned the pressing need for 4,000-megawatts of energy for 2027 as well as an additional 1,000-megawatts annually for ten years.

In light of these recent comments and Hydro-Québec's new strategy, it is reasonable to expect that more calls for tenders for wind projects and renewable energy should be announced in the near future.

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