Hydro-Quebec celebrates 70th birthday

Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec celebrated its 70th anniversary earlier this week, noting that hydroelectric power was and continues to be part of the company’s success.

Established April 14, 1944, with the passage of an act establishing the Quebec Hydro-Electric Commission, Hydro-Quebec wasted little time breaking ground on the Bersimis 1 and Bersimis 2 hydropower plants.

The boom in energy demand post-World War II quickly necessitated the construction of additional projects, with plants on the Manicouagan and Riviere Aux Outardes being built in the late 1950s.

Hydro-Quebec faced a pivotal moment in Fall 1962 when the provincial government, headed by Jean Lesage, proposed the nationalization of all power utilities under the election slogan “Maitres Chez Nous”, or “Masters in Our Own House”.

The movement led Hydro-Quebec to purchase 10 privately-held electric companies in May 1963 under the direction of Rene Levesque.

Since then, the utility has faced a number of challenges, including standardizing rates throughout the province, electrifying rural areas and setting up an effective distribution grid.

The company now operates 61 hydropower projects that have a cumulative output capacity of more than 36,000 MW, manages 34,000 km of transmission lines, employees 20,000 people, supplies 4.1 million customers and controls assets worth US$66.6 million.

“In celebrating its 70th anniversary, Hydro-Quebec is also celebrating its perpetual youth, thanks to its focus on clean, renewable hydropower, essential in a time of climate change,” the company said.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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