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No clear plan for energy and too many unanswered questions, deplores the PQ

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press MP Pascal Paradis, of the Parti Québécois, is concerned about the “confusion” of the Coalition Avenir Québec government regarding the future of Hydro-Québec.

Patrice Bergeron – The Canadian Press in Quebec

Published at 0:00 Updated at 11:34 a.m.

  • Quebec

Too many questions about the energy future and the place of the private sector remain unanswered even after the parliamentary committee hearing of the Minister of Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, and the president of Hydro-Québec, Michael Sabia, this week, deplores the Parti Québécois (PQ).

The PQ is concerned about the confusion and long-term “lack of vision” of the CAQ government, as well as a call for proposals launched by Hydro-Québec recently.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, PQ MP Pascal Paradis even suggests that the state company take the initiative and could launch itself into the production of solar or wind energy.

Earlier this year, Mr. Fitzgibbon said he wanted to legalize the sale of electricity between two private companies, in a bill that has been awaited for several months – while Hydro currently enjoys a monopoly on the distribution of electricity: the law allows a company to produce its electricity, but to use it for its own needs.

But in parliamentary committee this week, Mr. Fitzgibbon closed the door to the sale of electricity between companies, while Mr. Sabia suggested that there was no such scenario neither to the state corporation.


“This is in contradiction with some of the minister's statements over the last few weeks and months, in which he opened the door to this type of contract,” noted Mr. Paradis.

“What is the government’s plan?” he asked, asking the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) to stop covering their tracks.

“Where is he going, what does he want to do? What are the objectives, the long-term vision? What is the planning? What is the participation of the private sector? How the new plan helps decarbonize the economy? Every time we try to understand, it seems like the minister is going elsewhere.”

Because issues are already being raised. For example, the TES green hydrogen plant project in Shawinigan, which plans to install wind turbines several kilometers away from production facilities. Who will transport the electricity to the factory?

Likewise, Rio Tinto, already the owner of large hydroelectric power stations in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, is considering building wind farms to power itself.

In the consultations carried out by the government last year, questions were asked whether it was necessary to further encourage self-production by companies and allow corporate purchases of energy, business to business, recalled Mr. Paradis.

The summary notebook spoke of opening the door to other models and the development of bidirectional electrical systems, he continued.

Call for proposals

The PQ MP for Jean-Talon is also concerned about a recent call for tenders from Hydro-Québec which requires the services of consulting experts, concerning “various mandates relating to the regulation of distribution and transmission, the transmission pricing and electricity transmission services”.

We talk in particular about “opening a new commercial path” and new innovative offers. Mr. Paradis wonders about the purposes of the mandates, namely whether we are preparing, for example, the transport of private electricity in the Hydro network in exchange for royalties.

For his part, a spokesperson for Hydro-Québec, Jonathan Côté, assured that this was a routine call for proposals to fill the pool of independent experts including Hydro needs for the purposes of consultations with the Régie de l’énergie.

Wind and solar

Mr. Paradis has also opened certain doors by pushing the reflections a little further.

Currently, the state company is launching calls for tenders from private wind energy producers to then purchase their production, but the PQ demonstrates an openness to Hydro-Québec having its own wind energy production parks or solar.

“The private sector occupies a certain place and there is no question of putting an end to that,” Mr. Paradis immediately assured. But is the strategy the right one to rely solely or mainly on the private sector for the future? This is a big question.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116