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Hydro-Qubec defends Romaine project

Hydro-Québec is in a war of words with the producers of a documentary film, "Chercher le courant."


Hydro-Québec is in a war of words with the producers of a documentary film, “Chercher le courant.”

Winner of the People’s Prize in the 2010 Montreal International Film Festival, Chercher le Courant criticizes the giant Quebec utility’s Romaine project. The project involves the construction of four dams and reservoirs along a 200 kilometre stretch of the St. Romaine River, which flows into the St. Lawrence at Havre-Saint Pierre. To be completed by 2020, the installations will produce 1,550 MW of energy and create reservoirs amounting to 280 square kilometres.

On February 1, Hydro-Québec issued a press release to “set the record straight following the release of Chercher le courant.” It continued, “Since the release of the film Chercher le courant, a great deal of information about Hydro-Québec and the Romaine project has been circulating. We would like to point out a few facts that will provide a better understanding of the issues surrounding electricity in Québec.

“Thanks to hydropower, over 98% of the electricity generated by Hydro-Québec is clean, renewable and reliable. Very few countries have the same kind of electricity generation profile. In Western Europe, for instance, close to 50% of electricity is generated using fossil fuels, including coal, and over 25% using nuclear power.

“Hydropower also means that Quebeckers pay the lowest electricity rates in North America. For example, the average price billed to residential customers throughout Québec is 6.88¢/kWh (rates in effect April 1, 2010).

“Of course, there are other sources of renewable energy. In fact, Hydro-Québec is helping develop a number of emerging renewable energy sources. But they will never replace hydropower, for a variety of reasons related to economics, the climate and the environment.”

The statement went on to discuss various renewable energies, including wind, solar and biomass and to explain why they couldn’t match up to hydro in terms of both reliability and price. The statement concluded “Hydropower is our basic energy. It’s the energy of our geography. The sites occupied by Hydro-Québec’s power line rights-of-way and reservoirs are ecosystems, and they are very much alive. Countries that have hydropower potential comparable to ours (such as Norway) continue to favor hydropower development, just as we do. It is a mission that Hydro-Québec is proud of.”

The film’s producers replied point by point in their own press release two days later and said that Hydro-Québec had for the most part not dealt with the main arguments put forward in the film. The film was produced by Nicolas Boisclair and Alexis de Gheldere with Roy Dupuis.

 See Hydro-Quebec’s press release, click here.

 Chercher le courant’s response, click here.