Montréal, November 27, 2015
Reply from Hydro-Québec to an article published in The Globe and MailObjectively, Québec has a clean energy advantage
Hydro-Québec strongly objects to the article "Quebec facing its own 'dirty' energy problem", which rehashes the Sierra Club’s “lost in the 70s” arguments against hydropower development. A few days before the start of the Paris conference on climate change, it is inconceivable that any environmental organization ignores the advantages of hydropower, the only source of clean, renewable energy that can meet baseload demand.
A key asset in cutting GHGs, hydropower is developed with due respect for Native communities
Sierra Club has been opposing every hydropower project for decades. Unfortunately, its outdated ideas don’t take into account the way Hydro-Québec develops its projects.
All serious scientific reviews have demonstrated that Québec hydropower is clean energy with very low greenhouse gas emissions representing only a fiftieth of thermal energy derived from natural gas, a fifth of photovoltaic solar power, and equivalent to wind power. All credible environmentalist groups acknowledge this fact. Thanks to Hydro-Québec’s exports, 850,000 vehicles’ worth of GHG emissions have been avoided annually in New England.
Hydroelectric development has evolved immensely over the last fifty years. Sierra Club criticizes the Romaine project despite misunderstanding its design, which minimizes flooding and keeps carbon emissions to a minimum. The local First Nations communities, the Innu, are partners of Hydro-Québec in the project. Agreements are in place in order to ensure that they benefit from their participation.
The United States wants to import more hydropower
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan is clear on the subject: importing hydropower from outside the United States is a way for the country to reduce its carbon footprint.
Ironically, the Sierra Club’s attacks are coming at a time when New England is taking considerable steps to acquire clean energy. Three states have issued a joint request for proposals for clean energy and development of the power transmission infrastructure needed to bring it to their region. Hydro-Québec and its American partner, Eversource Energy, intend to submit a bid.
To this end, Hydro-Québec and Eversource are jointly developing the Northern Pass Transmission project, which will enable us to increase our exports of hydropower to New England. In summer 2015, Eversource revised its project to address the main criticisms. The U.S. Department of Energy, which has to approve the project before it can go ahead, recently released a study that characterized the impact of the new route as “moderate” in comparison with other possible solutions. Hydro-Québec is confident that the quality of the project, along with its positive impacts, will be recognized.
When it comes to climate change, doing nothing is not an option. The various initiatives under way in New England demonstrate that regional decision makers are willing to act. Hydro-Québec is highly involved in these initiatives and knows that its energy is part of the solution to the climate change.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec