This week, Canadian ICMIF member Desjardins announced that it is providing up to CAD 350 million in financing to the Alliance de l’Énergie de l’Est so that it can invest in renewable energy projects and qualify for requests for proposals from Hydro-Québec.
In its announcement, Desjardins said it is proud to support the alliance – a coalition of 209 municipal and Indigenous governments representing 16 regional county municipalities in eastern Quebec and the Magdalen Islands – in its efforts to build and operate wind farms in the region. The initiative is helping Quebec communities invest in wind farming via requests for proposals from Hydro-Québec.
“The unique financing structure we’ve established with Alliance de l’Énergie de l’Est will have considerable financial impacts in eastern Quebec and further establish Desjardins as a catalyst in the energy transition,” said Desjardins Group President and CEO Guy Cormier. “Our work with local partners to develop and build out renewable energy in Quebec is part of Desjardins Group’s core values.”
Four wind farms with a combined output of 922 MW were submitted to Hydro-Québec’s request for proposals by the alliance and partners EDF Renewables, Invenergy, Algonquin Power and Hydro-Québec. All four got the green light in March. The projects will combine insight into energy issues and expertise on development, construction and operations from the alliance members and project partners to benefit local communities.
“This unique financing is excellent news for the Alliance! It’s a natural partnership between Desjardins and our organisation, since we share common values such as sustainable development and the redistribution of resources in the community. In the long term, this structuring and innovative financing will enable us to contribute on an equal basis with our private partners to projects that will benefit the community. These projects will contribute to Quebec’s energy transition, while optimising the economic, social and environmental impact in the regions concerned,” emphasised Michel Lagacé, President of Alliance de l’Énergie de l’Est.
Alliance de l’Énergie de l’Est is already a 50% stakeholder in two wind farms with a combined output of 300 MW. Its members include 209 communities and regions with a total of 344,000 residents across 46,200 km2, all the way from Montmagny to the Magdalen Islands.
Financing for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Desjardins says this type of innovative financing is one of a number of its initiatives designed to help companies embrace clean energy.
In December 2022, Desjardins partnered with Export Development Canada to launch a new sustainable financing offer for medium and large exporters. With this new product, Desjardins will grant up to CAD 1 billion in financing over the next three years for projects that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Desjardins has also introduced cash back to encourage companies to use ESG criteria in their investments. The new ESG swap is designed to cover interest rate risk and reward companies for achieving ESG key performance indicators.
Net zero emissions by 2040
Desjardins Group has an ambitious plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2040 in its extended operations and its own investments and lending activities in energy, transportation and real estate – three of the most carbon-intensive sectors.
To achieve this goal, Desjardins will boost the share allocated to renewables in its lending to large energy corporations from 24% in 2020 to 35% in 2025. It will also build a CAD 2 billion investment portfolio in renewable energy infrastructure (up 66% over 2020) and provide financial support for five biomethanisation development projects, which involve converting organic waste – largely from agriculture – into renewable energy.