Quebec wind energy plant gets the green light with Enercon wind turbines

The power towers, expected to feed into the Hydro-Quebec electricity-distribution network for at least the next two decades, will be erected on the outskirts of Mercier, St. Constant, St. Isidore, St. Remi and St. Michel. Almost half, 20 towers in total, will be installed around St. Isidore, about 20 kilometres south of Montreal.

The wind power project, known as Kemont and promoted by Kruger Energy, is expected to begin operating in December 2012. It is "the first such wind power project in Quebec developed in an urbanized zone such as those of these municipalities," according to the project’s website.

No tower will be installed closer than 750 metres from a residence, and none will be located closer than two kilometres from a designated urbanized zone around each of the towns. During an inquiry, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), Quebec’s environmental public-consultation body, "received no expression of concern from the public concerning the installation of the project on the countryside," according to a 112-page report it issued in approving the project.

After three public hearings, the BAPE announced May 13 that it had judged the project "acceptable from a social, environmental and economic point of view." "All of the briefs received favoured the project and few requested particular conditions for its completion," its report stated.

"Two participants expressed preoccupations regarding health and the project’s impact on the quality of life or agriculture. One opposed the project because it would be situated on high-quality agricultural land."

In a brief to the BAPE, resident Francois Corriveau had stated that "the affirmation by the promoter that noise (generated by the turbines) would not have an effect on health contradicts the results of numerous studies on the negative effects" of large-scale windmills.

The BAPE said Kemont will have to keep records, and make them accessible, of any complaints of exposure to noise above 30 decibels. The wind power project is rated at 101.2 megawatts of power — equivalent to the annual consumption of 10,000 homes heated by electricity.

It forms part of "a strategy to turn Quebec into a leader for green, renewable energy," Quebec vice-premier Nathalie Normandeau said in a prepared statement. It’s also "one step more toward our goal of developing 4,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2015," she added. That would represent about 10 per cent of Quebec’s electricity-production capacity.