One of Quebec’s smaller telcos is making a big splash by harnessing wind to deliver power to its towers in a remote part of the province. The pilot project is likely to become permanent and other sites may employ the new technology. Télébec, which services the less populous sectors of the province, established the windmill project in the Great Whale district of James Bay earlier this month. The area is near the border between Quebec and Nunavut. Paul Lacoursière, manager of communications and public affairs for the ILEC, says the new system has many advantages besides the obvious environmental concerns. One is the ease with which the telco can monitor the performance of the equipment. The James Bay site is so remote that the only access is by helicopter. As part of the installation of the new equipment, Télébec has also made it possible to use satellites to check on the operation of the tower. The company expects that, depending on how strong the wind blows, it can save up to one-third of its energy costs. "It gives about 30% of the power of the technical structures when the wind blows efficiently," Lacoursière explains to Network Letter. "Other times, it’s the generator that gives the power. We used to fill up the gas container every year. We hope to do it every two years." Technicians for the telco will use computers twice a day to monitor the efficiency of the system. They will be able to record how often the tower is powered by the windmill and how often by generators. The windmill has been set up on the border between territory served by Télébec and its BCE Inc. cousin, Bell Canada. The power will link the equipment owned by the two telecom firms. Lacoursière is hopeful that other parts of the Télébec serving area will be able to use the technology. "We have identified 10 other sites that could be interested in using windmill power like this one," he reveals. "So we will review our statistics at the end of this year and see if we are prepared to put other towers up there." Lacoursière says it is far too early for the company to determine if the system can be deployed by other telcos. He has been told that TELUS Corp. attempted a similar project earlier but was unsuccessful due to light winds in the area. Télébec was surprised when an expert it hired from the Université du Québec à Rimouski informed it that the James Bay district is the windiest section of the world. Because the windmill technology uses renewable energy the project was eligible for a grant from the energy efficiency bureau of the federal department of Natural Resources. The Canadian government provided $178,000 of the $250,000 needed to get the system started. Even though the James Bay project is only weeks old, Lacoursière says he expects Télébec will continue to use it for years to come. The real question is whether the technology is economical enough to deploy in other sections of the telco serving area. He is hopeful that at least two or three other projects will be initiated within a few years.