Maple wind turbines

April 29, 2021 Frobert
April 28, 2021 lesagelandry.lea
April 27, 2021

Implementation of a wind farm in the MRC de l'Érable in Quebec. The project caused great tension, leading to a deterioration of the social climate. Legal proceedings initiated by the affected municipalities against the project promoter.

In context

In its orientations and priorities for action, the Québec Energy Strategy 2006-2015 identifies the development of wind energy as a source of renewable energy (see the document from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources presented below in the references). Hydro-Québec then launched several calls for tenders. In this context, the company Geilectric submitted, in 2007, a project notice to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks regarding the development of a wind farm in the regional county municipality (MRC) of L 'Maple. The same year, Geilectric sells the rights and interests of the proposed wind farm to the Spanish company Enerfín. In 2008, Enerfín created the Éoliennes de L'Érable subsidiary, which became the promoter of the project.

As highlighted in the report of the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) in 2010, the project was the subject of controversy in its host environment (see the BAPE report presented below. in references). The highlight of this project is the deterioration of the social climate that it has created. Despite the tensions, the project was authorized and construction of the park began in 2011. The park has been in operation since November 2013.

General issues

The Éoliennes de l'Érable project is memorable for the social division it created among the populations who welcomed or were affected by the installation of wind turbines. Boycotted businesses, torn families and friendships, neighbors who no longer speak to each other, subject prohibited in schools; the wind farm has formed two clans from its inception: the wind pros and the anti wind turbines.

The former praise its economic benefits and its ecological aspect. They are often owners who receive thousands of dollars in annual royalties because they have agreed to install wind turbines on their land, or else people who live far from them and who are less affected by their presence. The anti-wind turbines complain about the deterioration of the landscape, the noise and the repercussions that the project has had on social ties. It is moreover on the basis of this last aspect that the citizens initiated a collective action against the promoter, a first in Canada, which could set a precedent.


Several stakeholders were directly or indirectly involved in the Éoliennes de l'Érable project and in the legal proceedings that followed. The parties were categorized into internal stakeholders, either from the proponent's perspective, and external stakeholders, or from the perspective of those receiving the project.


Internal stakeholders

  • Finally: subsidiaries, employees, shareholders;
  • Éoliennes de l'Érable: employees of the Quebec office;
  • Construction companies and suppliers chosen for construction (eg 3 CI);
  • Law firm: two law firms worked on the Éoliennes de l'Érable case;

External stakeholders

  • Government of Quebec: Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, etc .;
  • MRC of central Quebec: MRC de l'Érable, MRC d'Arthabaska, other neighboring MRCs;
  • Municipalities: Saint-Ferdinand, Sainte-Sophie-d'Halifax, Saint-Pierre-Baptiste, other neighboring municipalities;
  • Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE);
  • Régie de l'Énergie du Québec;
  • Hydro-Quebec;
  • Traders and businesses in the region;
  • Citizens of affected municipalities;
  • Citizens whose wind turbine is installed on their land directly (landowners);
  • Citizens' committee for the successful integration of the Érable wind power project (CIRPÉE);
  • Citizen committee in disagreement with the project underlying the class action;
  • Regional Environmental Council of Center-du-Québec;

The above list only presents a sample of all stakeholders. The abundance of stakeholders affected by the project demonstrates the importance of the case, both at the level of municipalities, citizens, but also government energy policies.


Sequence of events

The Éoliennes de l'Érable case took place over several years. The timeline below presents the most important and significant events. It should be noted that the project is part of the Quebec Energy Strategy 2006-2015 entitled "Energy to build the Quebec of tomorrow".

  • 2003 : First public call for tenders for the acquisition of 1000 MW of wind power launched by Hydro-Québec for Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine;
  • November 2004 : The Régie de l'énergie du Québec issues an opinion recommending further exploitation of Québec's wind power potential;
  • October 2005 : Hydro-Quebec launches a second call for tenders for the acquisition of 2000 MW intended for all regions of Quebec. Fifteen projects were selected, including that of the company Enerfin in the MRC de l'Érable in 2007;
  • June 2008 : Enerfin creates the Quebec subsidiary Éoliennes de l'Érable to develop the project;
  • March 2009 : The proponent submits the impact study to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks;
  • May 2009 : Creation of a citizens' committee to identify interest in wind energy development for the region of the MRC de l'Érable;
  • November - December 2009 : the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) begins an investigation and public hearings, and organizes five (5) information sessions with several stakeholders (promoter, ministries, municipalities, etc.) ;
  • January 2010 : A preliminary opinion favorable to the project was issued by the Commission for the protection of agricultural land to the project promoter;
  • March 2010 : The BAPE submits its final report following the public hearings;
  • April 2011 : Start of construction of the wind farm. This date corresponds in fact to the initial date of commissioning of the wind farm;
  • November 2012 : A class action is filed by residents of the MRC de l'Érable against the company Éoliennes de L'Érable (subsidiary of Enerfin);
  • November 2013 : Commissioning and start of operation of the wind farm;
  • December 2014 : The motion for class action is accepted by the Superior Court of Quebec;
  • February 2020 : A judge issues a favorable judgment for the project promoter;
  • December 2020 : An appeal request for the residents' class action is authorized.


The spread of procedures over time has contributed to the erosion of social cohesion. Over the months, the climate worsened between the stakeholders and it worsened when the project was authorized in January 2010. In parallel with the development of the wind farm, a second legal battle took place, that of the researcher. Marie-Ève Maillé, who helped keep the focus on the Éoliennes de l'Érable case. In order to help the reader understand the main repercussions that these legal proceedings had on the Éoliennes de l'Érable case, it is relevant to highlight the significant events of what was later dubbed “the Maillé Affair”. . This complex case is well documented in the literature for readers who wish to learn more. In particular, it is possible to find a summary of the events on the Wikipedia page of the Maillé Affair, the hyperlink of which is available below.

  • 2006 to 2012 : Researcher Marie-Ève Maillé documents the Éoliennes de l'Érable project for her doctoral thesis. It studies more particularly the social divisions which have been created in the municipalities hosting the project;
  • January 2016 : When the class action against the Éoliennes de l'Érable project is heard by the Superior Court, the judge orders Ms. Maillé to submit her research report (doctoral thesis) as well as her research agenda to the subsidiary by Enerfin, Éolienne de l'Érable. Refusing to disclose this information, Ms. Maillé is still invited as an ordinary witness to the case, but her research information, including her doctoral thesis, was not admitted to the Court as evidence;
  • 2016-2019 : Legal battle between Ms. Maillé and the Superior Court to contest the request for disclosure of her research data in order to protect the confidentiality of the information collected;
  • 2019 : The Superior Court rejects the injunction requiring Ms. Maillé to disclose her research data.

This last step presented in particular had a significant impact on the revelation of sources on the part of university researchers and the trial proved the researcher right.

Impacts (positive and negative)

The impacts of the Éoliennes de l'Érable project are grouped into four categories: environmental impacts, social impacts, economic impacts and cultural impacts. These impacts have been documented in reports, articles and documents published on the subject.


Environmental impacts

  • Noise;
  • Visual disturbances (wind turbines and the power line) and distorted landscape;
  • Deforestation;
  • Crops threatened by winds;
  • Soil pollution and the quality of drinking water and watercourses;
  • Reduction and threat of species of fauna (aerial and marine) and flora (terrestrial and marine);
  • Reduction of greenhouse gases.


Social impacts

  • Reduced quality of life (noise pollution and visual impact) during the construction and operation of the wind farm;
  • Repercussions on health (infrasound, low frequencies and parasitic voltages). Aeolian syndrome (noise and shadows);
  • Physical and mental health problems: insomnia, anxiety, fear, anger, stress, depression, psychological distress;
  • Repercussions on the safety (moving shadows and road traffic) of the inhabitants;
  • Tense social cohabitation and loss of social bond;
  • Feeling of infringed rights of citizens and loss of confidence.


Economic impacts

  • Project that threatens the tourist attraction of the region and the economic impact on air flights;
  • Declining land value of properties and agricultural land;
  • Power of attraction of new residents threatened;
  • Fear of a slowdown in telecommunications development;
  • Brake to agricultural development;
  • Privatized production;
  • Guarantee of local and national economic prosperity;
  • Job creation.


Cultural impacts

  • Endangering cultural heritage: landscapes and places reflect the identity of a society and transmit values from generation to generation;
  • Financial compensation for the development of cultural or town planning projects.