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Montréal, May 12, 2015

Press Release

Hydro-Québec treats customers with respect

Hydro-Québec responds to Stéphanie Grammond’s column “More and More Complaints: When Will We Get an Ombudsman?”

Hydro-Québec would like to provide some details in response to Stéphanie Grammond’s column in La Presse titled “More and More Complaints: When Will We Get an Ombudsman?” Ms. Grammond concludes by asking when an impartial, independent system will be set up to protect Hydro-Québec customers.

The system already exists and it works well. For 17 years, the Régie de l’énergie [Québec energy board] has had quasi-judicial and totally independent authority over customer complaints about Hydro-Québec. Accordingly, any customer who is not satisfied by the way Hydro-Québec has handled a complaint may take it to the Régie.

This desire to offer top-quality service at the best possible cost, with an effective mechanism for handling complaints, is far from new—it has been around for decades. Hydro-Québec’s establishment in 1944 was closely tied to the need to improve customer relations. The office of the public protector was established in 1968, and it has always been clear to the legislature that Hydro-Québec does not fall within its jurisdiction, because not only does Hydro-Québec have its own act, it is a business corporation with its own customer services department. Although the Public Protector Act has been amended twice since then, it has never been agreed that it should cover Hydro-Québec. At one time, Hydro-Québec had an ombudsman with powers of recommendation similar to those of the public protector, but the legislature preferred to establish a body with quasi-judicial authority to serve the best interests of citizens. So in 1996, after the release of the new energy policy, Energy at the Service of Québec, the Régie de l’énergie was set up.

Number of complaints stable

In her column, Ms. Grammond says that the number of complaints received has climbed 15% since 2010, but her calculation does not take into account the increased number of service contracts nor the fact that the number of complaints has not gone up significantly since 2011 (5,804 in 2011, 5,848 in 2012, 5,538 in 2013, 6,038 in 2014).

The number of complaints regarding Hydro-Québec submitted to the Régie has also remained fairly stable since 2010 (202 in 2010, 183 in 2011, 163 in 2012, 152 in 2013, 190 in 2014), despite the greater number of service contracts.

While the Régie de l’énergie has quasi-judicial authority, the public protector has only the power to make recommendations. If the public protector handled complaints about Hydro-Québec, customers would no longer benefit from the Régie’s binding decisions. Furthermore, an increase in the public protector’s workload could translate into higher public expenses.

Hydro-Québec treats customers with respect

Hydro-Québec customer services now serve 4,179,850 customers throughout Québec’s 17 regions, fielding no fewer than 3.5 million calls a year.

Customer services settle the vast majority of complaints received, so customers do not have to go to the Régie de l’énergie.

The reason is quite simple: Hydro-Québec takes every complaint seriously and treats its customers with respect.

Contact :
Nathalie Vachon
514 289-5005 
1 844 289-5005  

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