Despite the obvious lack of credible evidence to support claims of “low carbon” or “carbon-free” the Canadian hydropower industry continues to misrepresent the climate impacts of its electricity. In the document shown below, submitted under oath in testimony to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, the corporations promoting Hydro-Quebec’s electricity claim it is “carbon-free”. This is blatantly false.

In fact, hydropower from the NECEC corridor through Maine to Boston will increase Massachusetts emissions by 2 million metric tons of CO2, an increase of about 2%. Massachusetts 2016 total CO2e were about 73 million metric tons.

The Canadian hydropower industry cannot substantiate its claims about the greenhouse gas benefits of its electricity for several reasons. First, it has no site-specific data for each of the generating stations that feed hydroelectricity into the distribution systems. For example, Hydro-Quebec has 62 generating stations in Quebec and co-owns the massive 5,428 megawatt Churchill Falls dam in Labrador. Alone, these two generating stations flood 56,000 square miles, the size of the State of New York, and have reservoirs of 1,200 and 2,200 square miles respectively. There is no lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions analysis for these existing facilities.

Nor has there been a greenhouse gas accounting for the 22 new dams proposed and under construction across Canada. Experts advise, “If minimizing climate impacts are not a priority in the design and construction of new hydropower facilities, it could lead to limited or even no climate benefits.” Olko and Hamburg, Nov. 2019.  

Hydro-Quebec is building four massive dams on the Romaine River to export electricity to the U.S.  The Canadian regulatory process never assessed the climate impacts in the design and construction of these megadams on the Romaine River.

Yet, Hydro-Quebec continues to promote its electricity as “clean and green” and as “renewable energy.”  In the U.S., regulators and groups such as Conservation Law Foundation, ignore the facts, science and common sense that says destroying vast areas of forest is not a climate solution. While other groups are promoting the idea to “plant a billion trees”, the Quebec Government and U.S. politicians, CLF and others are supporting state-sponsored projects such as the Romaine River dams, that will irreversibly destroy the world’s remaining forests and rivers.

NAMRA’s comments to the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs regarding the state’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 (CECP) and Decarbonization Roadmap’s inclusion of Canadian hydropower imports (additional resources available here)