Organizations challenge the agreement between Hydro and Énergir

Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press

QUEBEC CITY — Environmental groups are challenging the agreement between Hydro-Quebec and Énergir before the Régie de l’énergie.

The Association of Environmental Energy Organizations (ROEE) filed a request for review on Monday, The Canadian Press has learned. Other requests for review led by other organizations were also to be filed, it was possible to learn.

The agreement between the state corporation and the main natural gas supplier aims to convert gas heating systems to dual energy, but Hydro will have to compensate Énergir for its lost revenue and pass on the bill to its customers. The agreement reduces demand for electricity during peak periods.

But environmental organizations say the deal is unacceptable. According to them, it slows down the energy transition and prolongs the use of polluting fossil fuels from the oil sands.

What’s more, the agreement will lead to staggering costs of several billions for Hydro-Québec subscribers, in compensation paid to Énergir for the loss of income, argue the organizations.

Admissible or not

The Régie will first have to decide in the coming weeks or months whether the request for review is admissible. If so, she will then hear the case.

To justify its action, the ROÉE relies in particular on the dissidence of one of the managers in the decision approving the agreement – ​​dissidence is rather rare in the history of the Régie, notes an analyst who works for the ROÉÉ, Jean-Pierre Finet.

“Serious errors”

In its request, the ROÉE maintains that the « majority (of the commissioners) exceeded or failed in the proper exercise of the Régie’s jurisdiction and committed serious and fundamental errors in respecting and applying the Act respecting the Energy management”, can we read.

“It is said that the Régie exceeded its rights, the rights of its constituting law,” commented Mr. Finet, in an interview with The Canadian Press. In other words, the Régie went too far in stating general principles.

« We allege a serious substantive defect, » he said.

“For example, deciding to go to dinner with the family is a general principle, but deciding that it will be in a specific restaurant, that we will eat chicken and another will eat ribs, it is no longer a general principle. In our case, it is a pricing decision that binds the next training of managers who will be placed in front of accomplished facts.

Compensation that does not pass

In addition, on the merits, the organizations are firmly opposed to the compensation of Énergir by Hydro.

« It makes no sense, it’s like compensating the oil companies every time we recharge an electric vehicle, it doesn’t make more sense, » he added.

Hydro already estimates that the agreement will lead to a 1.4% increase in its rates in 2030.

The state-owned company estimates its shortfall at $4.8 billion, coming both from the agreement with Énergir but also from an increase in electrification in general.

“This cost will exist, whether there is an agreement with Énergir or not, we will electrify the heating of buildings,” explained a Hydro spokesperson.

“By electrifying buildings that currently use 100% gas as part of the agreement with Énergir – which aims to relieve pressure on the peak network – the impact on new electricity supplies is of the order of $4.8 billion,” the spokesperson explained.

Complete electrification, therefore without going through the dual energy on which the agreement is betting, would take longer and cost more, or $9.6 billion in the long term, “exorbitant costs for society”, argues Hydro.

The Legault government has constantly repeated for its part that this agreement was advantageous, since it would make it possible to reduce Quebec’s emissions by 540,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases by 2030, according to the figures it advance.


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