Montréal, January 15, 2016
Québec hydropower: the clean power option for New England
David Brooks' article entitled “What does the quick approval of a Vermont power line say about Northern Pass?”* accurately describes various transmission projects in the northeastern US, but unfortunately misses the point about the value of large-scale hydropower for New England.
Partnering with Québec native communities and respecting the natural environment
It’s a myth to talk about “displaced native peoples” in the context of Hydro-Québec’s projects. In fact, Hydro-Québec and Aboriginal people have developed various partnerships to ensure the communities benefit from economic spinoffs of projects, to preserve the various types of land use and to promote the pursuit of traditional activities. Hydro-Québec has signed over 30 agreements with Aboriginal nations and communities since 1975 and is a leader among Canadian companies in terms of its extensive relations with Aboriginal communities.
Hydropower projects in Québec are subject to stringent environmental review by provincial and federal authorities, and exhaustive environmental and social studies are conducted with a view to developing the best solutions and defining measures to prevent, mitigate or compensate for project impacts.
The drowning of caribou in 1984 goes back more than 30 years and there is no proof of a link with Hydro-Québec’s operations. Caribou herds cross major waterways in Québec’s north every year, including reservoirs used for hydropower generation, and Hydro-Québec is very active in studying and supporting research on these animals and other fauna in Québec’s north.
Hydro-Québec is already part of the solution and can do more to address New England’s energy challenges
Now let’s talk about a subject that really matters, right now, and is essential for our common future: increasing the supply of clean energy in our region. Over the last five years, Québec hydropower deliveries in the Northeastern US have avoided close to 28 million metric tons of CO2. That’s a number that means something in the fight against climate change. For 2014 alone, that's the equivalent of the yearly emissions of close to 850,000 vehicles. And that’s base load energy, the kind that New England needs.
Hydro-Québec has been New England’s partner in energy for decades now: over 40% of Hydro-Québec’s exports in any given year go to New England (closer to half if long-term contract sales to Vermont are included). This represents about 10% of New England’s current energy needs.
We are ready to send more of our hydropower south: Hydro-Québec will be participating in the request for proposals for clean energy and power transmission infrastructure launched by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
In addition to helping decarbonize the entire region’s existing energy supply, increasing and locking in deliveries of Québec hydropower into New England would benefit the region’s energy consumers in a number of ways: lowering wholesale prices, decreasing reliance on natural gas and smoothing out volatile winter electricity prices.
* Concord Monitor article: http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/20418781-108/what-does-the-quick-approval-of-a-vermont-power-line-say-about-northern-pass