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The North American Megadam Resistance Alliance, an alliance of environmental and social justice groups recently released a report detailing how the Canadian hydropower corporation, Hydro-Quebec, cannot meet its promises to supply more hydropower to the U.S. and further demand will likely require the construction of additional large dams in Canada. Large dams harm the climate, environment, and displace communities. Indigenous people who have lived on the land for millennia are often the most impacted.

The NorthBridge Energy Partners report concludes that two new transmission corridors proposed to bring HQ energy to Boston and New York will increase HQ’s export total to as much as 55.88 terrawatt (TWh) hours.  As it currently stands, HQ has anywhere from 40 to 53 TWh export without requiring new dams or other supplies to meet the needs of US cities. The two hydropower corridors, New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) and Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE), are being promoted as sources of green energy, a claim that is widely criticized.

HQ’s large Romaine dam complex in Quebec is almost complete and HQ needs additional sources of hydropower to meet export contract requirements and to ensure profitability.  The report documents HQ’s statements that it is contemplating new projects, including “our next major hydropower project.”

Key findings in today’s report, Canadian Hydropower Exports to the Northeast U.S.: New Transmission Corridors Linked to Potential New Dams include:

  • New export commitments for NECEC and CHPE in addition to existing or newly committed volumes to New Brunswick increase Hydro-Quebec’s total hydropower exports to 55.88 TWh or 27% of total sales.
  • Claims by HQ and Canadian politicians the industry has a “surplus” of hydropower and water “spilling over its dams” unused do not match available data and in any event are not enough to meet the existing export volumes plus firm contract commitments of the NECEC project for Massachusetts, either alone or together with any contract that may be signed by New York CHPE corridor.
  • HQ’s ongoing construction of new and future planned hydropower facilities is in large part driven by its interest in exporting hydropower to the U.S. where it can charge higher prices and achieve the greatest profits. HQ’s profitability is tied to exports and future exports are part of HQ’s strategic plan.  HQ’s revenue from exports exceeded $631 CDN in 2019.
  • HQ’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan states it will determine “what our next major hydropower project will be after the Romaine complex” reflecting HQ’s interest in building new dams.
  • Hydro-Quebec relies on 5,420 megawatts (MW) of hydropower from the Grand River in Labrador to meet its demand requirements; a transmission line to the recently constructed Muskrat Falls dam (824 MW) opens the possibility of HQ using additional energy from Muskrat Falls to meet export demands.
  • The planned and approved Gull Island (2,250 MW) dam in Labrador on the Grand (Churchill) River could also be tied into the HQ system in the near future.