As Quebec continues to face it’s own “dirty energy” export problems, their politicians should understand the pain Albertans are going through, but they are still deciding to oppose pipelines.
Last year, Hydro-Quebec generated nearly $15 billion by selling more than 200 TWh of electricity. Despite these high sales, Quebec produces “too much” energy and Hydro-Quebec must regularly let water flow away without generating electricity, resulting in millions of dollars of lost revenue.
Eager to reach new markets — a feeling Albertans appreciate — Hydro-Quebec has pushed to build new export lines through New Hampshire and Maine to reach customers in Massachusetts.
Unfortunately for Quebecers, the province has been getting a dose of its own medicine.
“(Hydro-Quebec) has met fierce environmental resistance by U.S. interest groups, First Nations and some municipal authorities, who say its proposed transmission lines would be disastrous for ecologically sensitive areas,” describes Jesse Snyder, writing for the Financial Post.
In 2018, New Hampshire’s site evaluation committee voted unanimously to reject Quebec’s export line to Massachusetts, which could have generated $10 billion over 20 years, according to Hydro-Quebec.
Quebec’s second route to Massachusetts also faces challenges. While Maine’s Public Utilities Commission has granted a key certificate to the transmission line going through the state, the project is still under review by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Land Use Planning Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project also faces opposition on the ground where numerous opponents are vowing to fight at every step.
U.S. opposition to Quebec’s hydro-electricity is eerily similar to the sentiments Quebec politicians have expressed towards oil pipelines coming from Alberta.
“The people of New Hampshire rejected the unreasonable burden of international transmission lines proposed by Eversource and Hydro Quebec,” states a Sierra Club release following New Hampshire’s rejection of Quebec’s export line. “This decision gives Governor Baker the perfect opportunity to pick better clean energy projects … Wind and solar power within New England would do more to provide the affordable, reliable, and truly clean energy that we need.”
Sound familiar? Here’s what Quebec’s premier said about pipelines.
“There is no social acceptance for a pipeline that would pass through Quebec territory,” said Quebec’s Premier François Legault. “I am not embarrassed to refuse dirty energy while we are offering clean energy at a competitive price.”
But there’s a key difference. While U.S. opposition has been directed at foreign production, Quebec’s politicians are driving a stake through the heart of our national unity. And it’s costing Canadians big time.
Because governments, including Quebec, have opposed pipeline development within our borders, Canadian businesses have lost out on billions of dollars, Canadian workers have lost out on thousands of jobs and Canadian taxpayers have lost out on billions of dollars worth of government services.
According to analysis from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, taxpayers lost $6.2 billion between 2013 and 2018 and can expect to lose another $3.6 million every day until 2023 if governments continue to get in the way of pipelines.
That means between 2013 and 2023, a lack of pipeline capacity could cost all provinces and territories at least one new hospital or 25,000 fully funded new teachers for 10 years. With that money, all residents in Quebec City could be exempt from all federal taxes for two and a half years.
Nobody wins when governments get in the way of development. It’s time for Quebec’s politicians to follow the golden rule, allow resources to flow through their borders and help all Canadians pay for more important services.
Franco Terrazzano is the Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Renaud Brossard is the Quebec Director.