Québec has extensive freshwater resources, some of which have been harnessed to generate electricity. Hydroelectricity gives Québec a competitive, renewable source of energy with impacts on the environment and climate that remain limited compared to conventional forms of power generation.

Originally, hydroelectric development was connected with the growth of the forestry and metal refining industries. Next, the Government mandated Hydro-Québec to harness the immense hydroelectric potential found throughout Québec.

The 2030 Energy Policy provides that, to meet Québec’s growing need for electricity as a result of the energy transition, Hydro-Québec must deploy supply management methods that will allow it to balance its supply with the demand for electricity. To do this, the Government and Hydro-Québec can take action with respect to both the supply and the demand from consumers.

New hydroelectricity supplies

In recent years, due to a number of socio-economic factors, Hydro-Québec has maintained leeway equivalent to more than 4% of Québec’s annual electricity needs.

First, the Energy Policy provides that new supplies will be authorized, in particular from hydroelectricity, if they will help maintain leeway equivalent to roughly 2.5% of Québec’s annual electricity needs.

Leeway is a vital element of the policy to attract investments to Québec, and it allows Hydro-Québec to send signals to the market, with reasonable notice, in order to trigger new supplies.

Second, the Policy provides that Hydro-Québec must take the following steps by 2020:

  • Complete the La Romaine hydroelectricity complex. Once complete, the complex will add 1,550 MW to Hydro-Québec’s generating fleet.
  • Plan for the implementation of electricity generating projects to meet Québec’s power needs.
  • Identify the next major hydroelectricity project that will meet Québec’s future electricity needs.

With regard to small hydroelectric power plants, the Government intends to increase the production of renewable electricity by commissioning six projects for which it has announced a resumption of work. New projects may be announced when the 2.5% leeway been achieved.