Transitions in Hydro-Quebec’s leadership and vacancy at a key managerial position signal change for the hydropower giant

Two of Hydro-Quebec’s top leadership positions and a high-profile managerial assignment will each change. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President Thierry Vandal, Executive Vice President-Corporate Affairs and Secretary General Marie-José Nadeau and Georges Abiad, project manager of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), are transitioning away from the Canadian government-owned utility.

The transitions are contemporaneous with province-wide implementation of more than 4 million AMI smart meters initiated in 2012. According to statements Vandal made that year, Hydro-Quebec began placing smart meters in service to replace analogue electrical meters and he expected to complete the rollout by 2017.

Abiad was responsible for implementing the company’s new C$1 billion AMI smart meter system. Hydro-Quebec said in a Feb. 3 press release, in addition to other information, the rollout of the next-generation meters is progressing well and Abiad’s departure will have no impact on the project’s progress.

Hydro-Quebec also said, “Mr. Abiad left the corporation last week [week of Jan. 25] to pursue other challenges.”

According to information from Hydro-Quebec, on Jan. 30, Vandal informed the company’s Chairman of the Board, Michael D. Penner, of his decision to resign from his position as member of the Board of Directors and as President and CEO of Hydro-Québec. Vandal’s resignation is effective May 1.

After more than 18 years in upper management at the utility, including 10 as President and CEO, Vandal, 53, gave no reason for his resignation, which he is making two years before the end of his current contract.

The utility indicated the Board of Directors and its chairman would decide on the process leading to his replacement during the next few weeks.

According to company records, Nadeau announced company-wide on Jan. 15 her intention to retire effective May 4. The 61-year-old executive had the most tenure of the three officials. Nadeau enjoyed a 40-year-career and upon leaving, she will have been a member of the senior executive team for 22 years.

Information Hydro-Quebec sent to media outlets quotes Nadeau on her decision to retire, saying her departure is “completely independent of that of Thierry Vandal, and it would be incorrect to make a connection.”

Nadeau’s retirement from Hydro-Quebec will not interrupt her responsibility as the Chair of the World Energy Council, which she accepted at the World Energy Congress 2013 in Daegu, Republic of Korea. She will continue to chair the organization until November 2016. The veteran energy executive is the first woman to attain this position and has been active in the WEC community since 1998.

Details of Nadeau’s compensation package upon her retirement are not immediately available.

Hydro-Québec has about 23,000 employees at more than 150 locations with nearly 130 employees in management. The company reports it generates 98% of its electricity from hydropower as of 2013. Its generating fleet includes 60 hydro, one nuclear and 27 thermal stations for an installed capacity of 36,810 MW.

Hydro-Quebec is the largest utility in Canada in terms of revenue earning, and in 2013 reports its revenue was C$3 billion with a net income of C$513 million.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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