The Designated Region for wind energy in Quebec corresponds to the administrative region of Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine and MRC de la Matanie. Indeed, it is in this region that the majority of wind farms are located, in addition to manufacturers, service providers, organizations, and educational institutions, all dedicated to the development of this energy sector. Moreover, the TechnoCentre éolien has been operating in this region for well over a decade.
The “Designated Region” concept was created in the wake of the first call for tenders for wind energy released by Hydro-Québec Distribution in 2003. The Quebec government was seeking to ensure that the development of this new sector foster the emergence of a core of unique expertise in Quebec in addition to representing an economic development tool for the region. In this regard, regional content criteria were incorporated into the call for tenders. The wind farm developers selected in the context of this tender were therefore required to ensure that at least 40-60% of the overall costs of each of their projects was incurred in the Designated Region, i.e. the administrative region of Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine and MRC de la Matanie.
The regional content requirements included in Hydro-Québec’s call for tenders, pursuant to a government decree, created significant economic spinoffs in the Designated Region. Several renowned manufacturers established facilities in the region for the production of blades, towers, nacelles as well as the assembly of nacelle components. Further, a number of manufacturers, construction companies and expert consulting firms were created or expanded thanks to the wind industry.
Regional content clauses can also be found in subsequent calls for tenders. In the 2nd and 3rd tenders, no less than 60% of the overall costs of the selected wind farms was required to be incurred in Quebec and at least 30% of the turbine costs was to originate within the administrative region of Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine and MRC de la Matanie. Such criteria allow local economic benefits in terms of manufacturing jobs and investments to be maximized. In the most recent 450 MW call for tenders, the government increased the regional content requirement in terms of turbine costs to 35%.