There is enough electricity in Quebec to supply a plant like the one Volkswagen will build in Ontario, says Hydro-Quebec, which argues that the company’s decision to locate in the neighboring province is not related to the lack of electricity.

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon says Volkswagen chose Ontario to establish its first North American battery plant because it couldn’t get the 800 to 900 megawatts of power it needed. need in Quebec.

“If we had had electricity, we would have been there, but we didn’t,” he said Tuesday night on Radio-Canada television.

Hydro-Quebec’s version is different: there is no shortage of electricity in Quebec, she says.

The state-owned company says the power was available, but the company’s demands and the very short deadlines to meet them made any agreement impossible.

Volkswagen wanted a massive 640 hectares of land, the equivalent of 1,400 football pitches, and 700 megawatts of power on site, in a very short period of time. The upgrading of the transmission network that would have been required could not have been carried out in time “according to the aggressive schedule of the promoter”, explains Hydro-Québec.

Volkswagen’s investment, estimated at several billion dollars, went to Ontario, where electricity is less green than in Quebec and costs more. Neither the scale of the investment nor the financial assistance that will be granted to the project are known.

Hydro-Quebec says it responded “to a request for information from the proponent” last year. The German company seems to have never seriously considered setting up in Quebec. As soon as its intention to build a battery factory became known, at the end of 2022, Volkswagen registered on the federal register of lobbyists, and not on that of Quebec⁠1.

“The plant will be built in Ontario,” a government source told La Presse at the time, who felt that “Quebec was too far behind Ontario.”

The city of St. Thomas, Ontario, chosen by Volkswagen to build its first battery plant outside of Europe, is located between Toronto and Windsor and was once home to a Ford plant.

Ontario has already been chosen to host two other major investment projects in electric transportation. A joint venture formed by Stellantis and LG has announced plans to build a $5 billion battery factory in Windsor, and Belgium-based Umicore wants to invest $1.5 billion in manufacturing battery materials in Kingston.