Hydro-Québec no longer wonders whether new hydroelectric power stations will be necessary. To meet the growing demand for electricity, energy conservation and wind turbines will not be enough. It will be necessary to build new production facilities, said the leaders of Hydro-Québec, who answered questions from deputies on Thursday during the study of the credits of the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Energy. .
Even though 4,000 megawatts of additional wind power are planned over the next few years, existing plants will be upgraded to produce more electricity, and the energy saving target has been increased threefold, it will not be enough to meet growing electricity needs,” said Dave Rhéaume, Vice President, Integrated Energy Needs and Risk Planning. “We’re going to have to invest in more production infrastructure,” he said. The vice-president of sustainable development and communications, Julie Boucher, also pointed out that the Crown corporation had several options to increase its production. The planning of new works is part of the enumeration of these means: “we do not say ‘or’ [to update the hydroelectric potential], but ‘and'”, she said.
“It is not physically possible to get rid of 100% natural gas in public buildings in Quebec,” Dave Rhéaume told MP Haroun Bouazzi, who raised doubts about the agreement between Hydro-Québec and Énergir to promote dual energy in the residential and commercial sector. While cities like Montreal are considering eliminating natural gas, this agreement will have the effect of prolonging the consumption of this fossil fuel for another 30 years, lamented the supportive MP. Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, believes that we must be realistic. “We are all for virtue, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that natural gas in Quebec is the equivalent of 17,000 megawatts of electricity to replace. »
Minister Fitzgibbon often laments that there is not enough electricity to supply all the companies that would like to establish themselves in Quebec, but for Hydro-Quebec, “the biggest issue is the lack of power” , explained Dave Rhéaume to the deputies. The supply required to meet peak demand for only a few hours a year is a challenge that the agreement with Énergir and the differentiated pricing according to the dynamic hours of the day attempt to meet. The export contracts concluded with the states of New York and Massachusetts do not worsen the problem of the winter peak because these contracts provide that no delivery of electricity will take place during these critical hours for the Quebec network, assure the leaders of Hydro-Quebec.
The recent freezing rain storm that knocked out power to 1 million homes has brought the landfill issue back into the news. Although most Quebecers would like all electrical wires to run underground, “it’s a very expensive and very complex option,” explained Régis Tellier, vice-president, operations and maintenance at the state-owned company. Landfilling is justified in very dense urban settings, such as downtown areas, but elsewhere the costs are enormous. It would take $8-10 billion to serve 500,000 customers, he illustrated, “a cost that should be borne by society as a whole.” There are other solutions, he says, “like planting the right tree in the right place,” such as lilacs rather than silver maples, near power lines.
Hydro-Québec presented itself without a CEO to the study of the credits of the ministry to which it reports, which the opposition strongly deplored. Sophie Brochu, who decided not to complete her term, left her post on April 11. Her right-hand man Pierre Despars, who came like her from Énergir, was appointed interim CEO, but he did not appear before the parliamentary committee to answer questions from deputies. “It is a concerted decision between Hydro-Québec and the minister, said Pierre Fitzgibbon, about the absence of Pierre Despars. We have three executives here, in the circumstances, that’s okay. »