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Our hydroelectricity: For the energy transition or for economic growth?

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There’s been a lot of discussion going on recently about the future of Quebec’s hydroelectricity. At Équiterre, we’re calling for a collective discussion on this complex issue, which will affect our daily lives, our communities and our environment for years to come.

Together, we must deconstruct the myths, confront the challenges and address the issues. So here we go!

Deconstructing the myths

❌ Quebec will continue to generate large surpluses of hydroelectricity in the coming years.

That’s false, for two major reasons:

  1. Projections show that the demand for electricity will increase significantly in Quebec over the next few years;
  2. Hydro-Québec has signed export contracts with New York and Massachusetts.

❌ The vast majority of Quebec’s energy consumption is hydroelectric.

False again: 54% of the energy consumed in Quebec in 2019 was still produced from fossil fuels. There’s still a lot to be done in Quebec to decarbonize transportation, buildings and industry.

Whats the problem?
  1. The Quebec government has ambitions to increase energy production for economic reasons, rather than prioritizing the decarbonization of essential sectors. In other words, it’s prioritizing economic growth at the expense of the ecological transition, when capacity is already insufficient to achieve the transition. We cannot continue the overexploitation of resources in the name of economic development.
  2. Decisions about our energy future are currently being made behind closed doors. A new Committee on the Economy and Energy Transition, composed of a few ministers and the CEO of Hydro-Québec, is currently discussing our energy future without public debate or transparency.
What are the challenges of the energy transition?
  1. To manage the energy transition and meet Quebec's target of carbon neutrality by 2050, our existing energy capacity is inadequate. Transitioning key sectors (transportation, buildings and industry) will require a significant boost in capacity (at least 100 TWh by 2050, which is equivalent to an additional one-half Hydro-Québec).
  2. Yes, we’ll need to increase energy production, but it cannot be done at any cost. Increasing electricity production, regardless of the type of energy (e.g. hydro, solar or wind), has social and environmental impacts. It’s important that it be well planned


Let’s talk about it! We need to have a collective discussion on Quebec’s energy future.

This issue is too important to be discussed behind closed doors. We need to make our voices heard. We must ensure that the priorities of experts, Indigenous communities, civil society and all Quebecers are taken into consideration.

The good news is that the government has just announced that there will be a public consultation on Quebec’s energy future. Now we must ensure that they put forward a format for this consultation that will allow for a real debate, where all voices will be heard.

Équiterre is calling for this consultation to be led by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE). Please help us by adding your voice to ours!

Let's ask for a consultation led by the BAPE

Sign the petition

Quebec is at a crossroads.

As a society, Quebecers must collectively discuss how we want to use our precious renewable energy: what should it be used to produce, for what purpose, for whose benefit? We need to use the right energy in the right place, and together come up with solutions for reducing our overall consumption where possible.