Jan 16, 2023
IT’S BEEN 3 ½ YEARS since Massachusetts utilities negotiated a massive power purchase agreement with Hydro-Quebec, and the electricity still isn’t close to flowing because of repeated delays in building a transmission line from the Canadian border down through Maine.
Hydro-Quebec officials say they are ready to deliver the power as soon as the transmission line is completed, but an upcoming change in administration at the Quebec-owned company and competing interests within the province itself are raising questions about the province’s ability to deliver down the line.
The Massachusetts contract with Hydro-Quebec is crucial to the state’s efforts to tackle climate change. Offshore wind is the homegrown industry grabbing all of the attention, but hydroelectricity from Quebec is the steady, reliable base on which Massachusetts can build a green electricity supply.
The contract with Hydro-Quebec promises a steady stream of electricity that should reduce the need for power generated by fossil fuels. The power comes from a series of 28 dammed reservoirs, and is not subject to daily fluctuations in wind or sunshine.
But getting the power into New England has not been easy. A bid to build a transmission line through New Hampshire failed to gain traction and a proposal in Maine has met strong resistance, including from a law passed by voters, but now the project appears headed toward approval after several key comeback victories in the courts.
Now concerns are surfacing north of the border. Sophie Brochu, the president and CEO of Hydro-Quebec, announced last week she would be stepping down on April 11 after serving three years of a five-year term. She said it was time for her to move on, but there was widespread speculation in the Canadian press that her decision reflected tension between her and the provincial government led by Francois Legault about the role of electricity in Quebec’s future economic development.
For decades, Hydro-Quebec has produced far more electricity than it needs at very low cost. Residents enjoyed low electricity rates (five times lower than Boston in 2022), as did many energy-intensive businesses.
But those days may be coming to an end. A strategic plan released by Brochu last year indicates the years of surplus are coming to an end. Quebec is dealing with climate change the same way Massachusetts is, by shifting its transportation and housing sectors from reliance on fossil fuels to reliance on clean electricity. That will require a lot more electricity – and the power won’t be as cheap as in the past.
“While we’ve been able to rely on an abundance of available energy in recent years, an upswing in demand for our green electricity will tighten our balances,” the strategic plan says. “As a result, our priorities will shift from selling large quantities of energy [both within Quebec and abroad] to helping Quebecers become more energy efficient and maximizing the value of our energy by targeting the most promising uses.”
Legault has tightened his grip on Hydro-Quebec and has raised the possibility of using lower-cost electricity to attract new industries to the province. Brochu has raised some concerns about that approach.
“I don’t want to become the Dollarama” of utilities, Brochu told the Toronto Globe and Mail in October. “Let’s say an industrial company in Quebec develops a new technology and they’re able to mount a demonstration project out of it and that it creates new jobs and that it’s extraordinary. If the government decides to give them a discount on power, that’s not dumb. But if we systematically offer an inexpensive industrial rate to attract everybody, that’s a disaster because that puts undue pressure on the rates paid by all the others.”
Hydro-Quebec’s strategic plan projects a need for new energy supplies in 2027, and says the price of that new power (hydro, wind, and solar) will be roughly 11 cents a kilowatt hour, well above the 3-cent-a-kilowatt-hour-cost of its legacy hydro power.
Lynn St-Laurent, a spokeswoman for the company, said the tightening of balances referenced in the strategic plan comes with the inclusion of the electricity Hydro-Quebec will supply under its 20-year power contract with Massachusetts and a 25-year contract negotiated last year with New York.
Please continue reading at:
Fair Use Notice: This website may reproduce or have links to copyrighted material the use of which has not been expressly authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available, without profit, as part of our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, economic, scientific, and related issues. It is our understanding that this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided by law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Forget about net zero, because CO2 is a life-giving/biomass-sustaining gas that we need more of to green the planet.
Prominent physicists have written some recent papers and verified their analysis with observation data that show CO2 cannot be anywhere near the GW gas the IPCC claims it is.
The IPCC-projected high world temperatures cannot be caused by CO2, according to those physicists
MEASURED balloon and satellite temperature data have been much lower than IPCC-predicted temperatures and the gap is widening, mostly due to decades of political temperature predictions with computer programs.
These computer programs have been running so excessively hot, that they have lost any credibility in the scientific community.
Massachusetts should build a greater capacity of oil and gas storage systems near 60%-efficient power plants, so fuel would be available, if gas is diverted for building heating during colder days of the winter. On normal day, NE has adequate oil and gas storage
Consider who put up the money to defeat this project: Calpine, owner of largest natural gas plant in Maine and NextEra, owner of largest oil-fired plant in Maine. NRCM, lovers of wind and solar fought to defeat this project.
There are corporations, organizations, lawmakers and media that never want to reach zero carbon. Follow the money
"The contract with Hydro-Quebec promises a steady stream of electricity that should reduce the need for power generated by fossil fuels."
The power enters Maine, will reduce output from Maine natural gas plants and place Maine on course to zero carbon in the electricity generation sector, thus a potential repeal of all renewable handouts of ratepayer monies.
© 2023 Created by Webmaster. Powered by
You need to be a member of Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power - Maine to add comments!
Join Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power - Maine