Prime minister: Hydro to boost Quebec’s renewable exports

Opening a new session of Quebec’s National Assembly, Prime Minister Jean Charest said March 14 the province will continue to pursue hydropower development in order to become North America’s leading exporter of electricity from renewables.

Charest said hydropower is of fundamental importance to the province’s inhabitants. He noted, since April 2003, more than 18,000 people have worked on construction of hydropower projects, including Hydro-Quebec’s 480-MW Eastmain 1, 385-MW Peribonka, 76-MW Rapides-des-Coeurs, and 62-MW Chute-Allard.

He said the projects represent an investment of C$4.5 billion (US$3.9 billion). He added the proposed two-powerhouse, 888-MW Eastmain 1A-Rupert Diversion in the James Bay region would provide work for more than 25,000 people.

Energy investment could total C$60 billion

Charest announced Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources is preparing to release a 10-year energy strategy. He estimated investment in energy project development over 15 years could total as much as C$60 billion (US$52 billion).

In comments delivered two days later to a business group, Charest said the government envisions investments in energy development of C$3.5 billion to C$4 billion (US$3 billion to US$3.5 billion) per year for 15 years.

Raymond Bachand, the province’s new minister of economic development, told the Canadian Press the future of Quebec lies in maximizing development of the hydroelectric potential of James Bay.

Bachand said the Charest government understands hydropower is a key economic engine driving the economy. He said the province is set to accelerate hydro development in the James Bay area.

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