Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Prime Minister François Legault greeting the workers of the Romaine complex in Havre-Saint -Pierre, during the inauguration Thursday
Prime Minister François Legault insisted Thursday on the importance of hydroelectric dams to meet energy needs as he inaugurated the Romaine complex launched by his predecessor Jean Charest, whose courage he praised.
Mr. Legault traveled to the North Shore to mark the completion of the Hydro-Québec installation, whose four power plants installed on the Romaine River, near Havre-Saint-Pierre, produce nearly 1,550 MW. /p>
“For me, it is a model to follow for possible future projects,” he declared at a press conference.
During the election campaign last year, Mr. Legault expressed his wish to relaunch the construction of hydroelectric dams in order to meet the demand for electricity, which should exceed Hydro-Québec's supply from 2027. Hydro- Quebec is currently carrying out preliminary analyzes on the Petit Mécatina River, also on the North Shore.
On Thursday, Mr. Legault said that improving energy efficiency and deploying wind turbines will not be enough to meet the electricity needs of businesses — and those of achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets. by 2050, as planned by international agreements. “Wind power is intermittent, so it’s not enough. So, the heart of our choices, and the best choice, remains hydroelectricity. »
Wind power is intermittent, so it's not enough
— François Legault
The Minister of Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, for his part underlined the stability of hydroelectric production. “To balance wind energy production, there is nothing better than hydroelectric dams,” he noted.
In addition to increasing wind energy production, Hydro-Québec wants to install new, more efficient turbine-generators in its existing power stations.
The courage of Jean Charest
Mr. Legault affirmed that the construction of dams continues to be one element among others. The outcome of negotiations with Newfoundland and Labrador for the renewal of the supply contract with the Churchill Falls power station continues to be an important variable in the equation.
Faced with the challenges of the social acceptability of a new dam, Mr. Legault affirmed that no project is perfect. “When you launch big projects, there are always negative reactions,” he said.
During a press briefing following the ceremony, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to salute the initiative of his predecessor Jean Charest, whom he had invited to participate in the inauguration of the complex.
Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press At a press briefing, Prime Minister François Legault praised the courage of his predecessor Jean Charest.
“It was important for me to invite Jean Charest who courageously launched the Romaine project in 2009, which was widely criticized. But I still think that hydropower is the best option,” he said.
Mr. Charest was flattered by the kind words that Mr. Legault and the ministers present had for him. “I was pleasantly surprised, I thank Prime Minister Legault,” he said.
First Nations and royalties
Mr. Legault did not take issue with the reluctance of certain indigenous communities regarding the prospect of a new dam being built on the North Shore, as would be the case if the Petit Mécatina project moves forward. “There are Innu chiefs who are for it, others who are against it. There is work to be done, but it is too early to answer the question. “It's a matter under analysis,” he said.
During the inauguration, the leader of the Innu community of Ekuanitshit, Jean-Charles Piétacho, underlined the importance of new formulas for royalties. “I know how to count. We will count in billions and not millions. If we want to talk, that’s it,” he noted.
Subsequently, the CEO of Hydro-Québec, Michael Sabia, who accompanied Mr. Legault, raised the possibility of partnerships that would allow communities to hold assets and participate in the management of energy production activities.
“Social debate” in sight
Premier Legault affirmed that Hydro-Québec will submit a revised strategic plan at the beginning of November which will serve as the basis for a “social debate » on the choices to be made regarding energy. The document will be the subject of discussions in parliamentary committee.
Mr. Sabia noted that this will be the first step in a more elaborate plan. “The presentation of this plan is the start of a dialogue, with us and the government. Then we'll get to this conversation about the details. »
In this regard, nuclear energy is still one of the aspects studied, even if Prime Minister Legault took care to emphasize its hypothetical nature. “There is currently no social acceptability in Quebec for nuclear power. [But] it is important that Hydro-Québec puts all possibilities on the table,” he summarized.