Quebec government cancels six mini hydro-electric projects2/6/2013
QUEBEC CITY — The Minister of Natural Resources, Martine Ouellet, pleased environmentalists but angered municipalities on Tuesday when she announced the cancellation of six mini hydro-electric projects.
Ouellet said the decision was motivated by economic issues, since the projects would have forced Hydro-Québec to buy electricity, and then sell it at a loss.
“Considering we expect to have a surplus of electricity, forecast through 2027, we thought it made sense to cancel plans for these small projects,” she said at a press conference.
The minister estimated the cancellation will mean annual savings for the province of $24 million.
Municipalities and developers involved in these projects, whose production was to be limited to less than 50 megawatts, will be compensated for the investments that have been made, Ouellet said, but could not specify the exact cost.
“I don’t have the information for each of the developers, so I do not want to give a number, she said. We’re talking probably a few million dollars.“
In the Quebec region, projects in Saint-Joachim and Shannon are cancelled.
On the North Shore, projects on the Sault-aux-Cochons River near Forestville and Pessamit are affected.
The mini-dams slated in the Lac Saint-Jean and Mauricie regions, are also cancelled.
However, the hydro-electric project for Val-Jalbert in Lac Saint-Jean, launched last fall by the government, will be maintained.
Ouellet said that project began in 2008 under the previous government and was too advanced to be stopped.
“When it comes to power, there’s no magic wand to fix everything, she said. The project of Val-Jalbert had received all necessary approvals and even received a favourable report from the Bureau d’audiences publiques en environnement.”
The Director General of Nature Québec, Christian Simard, welcomed the government’s decision, although he wished the project at Val-Jalbert could also have been suspended.
“This is very good news because it was a program that was unnecessary and expensive and had an impact on the biodiversity of ecosystems, he said. Just because it was to be a mini-dam does not mean there are mini-impacts.”
Simard believes the benefits of the six mini hydro-electric projects would have been relatively low compared to the La Romaine project, where four hydro-electric plants are under construction on the North Shore, with a total capacity 1,500 MW.
“It’s symbolic, it was so few megawatts, we’re talking a total of 150 MW for all the mini projects, he said. It makes sense to stop and think about it.”