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Quebec’s energy future | Legault finds criticism of his strategy “unfair”



(Québec) François Legault veut remettre les pendules à l’heure. Après des jours à lire et à encaisser des critiques face à sa stratégie énergétique, il trouve « injustes » les commentaires qui laissent entendre que son gouvernement travaille à donner de l’électricité au rabais à des entreprises énergivores.

Dans un point de presse en marge de la réunion du Conseil des ministres à Québec, M. Legault a détaillé les conditions que rempliront les entreprises qui obtiendront un « rabais » sur l’électricité qui leur est fourni par Hydro-Québec.

« Jamais on ne va donner un rabais sur le prix de l’électricité sans s’assurer que les revenus additionnels pour le gouvernement du Québec soient supérieurs à ce rabais-là », a promis le premier ministre.

Pour illustrer son propos, M. Legault a cité la filière batterie dans la municipalité de Bécancour, dans le Centre-du-Québec. Cette industrie représente des emplois « qui vont être [payés] at $100,000 a year,” he said.

“It is certain that if we have jobs at $100,000 a year that replace other jobs at $50,000 a year, that brings additional revenue to the Government of Quebec,” said Mr. Legault.

“Our job is to ensure, in each contract that is signed, that the additional revenue for Quebecers exceeds the discount that would be given on the marginal cost,” he added.

2050 goal

More than a week after the announcement of the departure, later in the spring, of the CEO of Hydro-Québec, Sophie Brochu, François Legault reiterated that the government must work with companies in order to achieve its goal of decarbonizing the province’s economy by 2050.

“When we look at industrial companies, that represents 30% of GHGs [gaz à effet de serre] in Quebec. It is the second group that pollutes the most after transport, which is at 43%. […] What do we have to do ? For the good of Quebecers, for the good of the planet, we must replace the polluting energies that are used by these companies, replace them with clean energies, essentially electricity,” he said.

Mr. Legault once again cited the wealth gap between Quebec and its neighbours, notably Ontario, but also the United States. “Enriching society is not an end in itself, but it is a means to give oneself a better quality of life,” insisted the Prime Minister.

According to him, new economic sectors – particularly the battery sectors, or green aluminum and green steel, produced with hydroelectricity – will allow companies established in Quebec to produce products which will then be integrated “into ‘other products around the world’.

Roadblocks to negotiate

François Legault also added a new argument on Wednesday to justify the construction of new hydroelectric dams. At a press conference, the Prime Minister recalled that Quebec will negotiate with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador the Churchill Falls electricity contract, advantageous for Quebec, but which ends in 2041.

“I don’t want to find myself without a plan B in my pocket and having to accept any rate that [le premier ministre] Andrew Furey will propose to me, ”said Mr. Legault.

“If we want to be in a good negotiating position with Newfoundland, we must have a plan for Churchill Falls, and that means new dams. It is important to understand that we will not be able to meet all our needs well. [énergétiques] only with wind, solar or any other intermittent energy,” he added.

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