HydroQuebec Shorting Vermont?

While our climate-crazed legislature advances toward full decarbonization of Vermont energy and its replacement with electricity, our main source of electricity – HydroQuebec – is warning that it’s facing demand that may be more than it can provide.

Rob Roper reports in his invaluable blog Behind the Lines, “According to a story in Bloomberg, Vermont’s largest and most economical supplier of electricity is sending signals it won’t be able to produce enough to meet demand.”

“This is a problem for Vermont as the Global Warming Solutions Act put us on a path mandating that Vermonters largely, if not entirely, electrify our thermal and transportation sectors, by 2030 and completed by 2050. This is estimated to double the state’s overall demand for electricity.”

“It is highly unlikely that we can renew our contract with Hydro-Quebec on anything like the same terms as our current contract. … If trends continue, competition for that power from other New England states, businesses such as Amazon and General Motors, and …  Canadians themselves who are laboring under greenhouse gas reduction mandates of their own will drive up prices.”

“What this portends, given our current policy prescriptions, is that Vermont will spend the next decade and a half converting our oil furnaces to electric heat pumps, our gas stoves to electric induction, and our internal combustion engine vehicle fleet to EVs only to see the cost of electricity explode when our contract with Hydro-Quebec expires.”

Thanks for that, Rob.


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Enter Comment Here:

  • Jan van Eck
    commented 2023-06-05 21:45:33 -0400
    HydroQuebec has a long history of financing the Provincial budget by exploiting its neighbors. Readers may note that the original big-hydro project was Churchill Falls, located in Labrador (a political part of Newfoundland). Churchill Falls has this stupendous 1,000-foot vertical drop, compared to Niagara Falls at only 177 ft. The power potential is staggering. So Joey Smallwood, the Premier of Newfoundland, made the decision to spend his province’s cash on building a massive power dam at Churchill.

    Now it turns out that the pathway to market for all that electricity was through the Province of Quebec. HydroQuebec would not allow Newfoundland power to transit its territory unless it was first sold to HydroQuebec, and then HQ would build the towers across its land and re-sell the power to customers in the USA. HQ would only pay Newfoundland 0.1 cents/kwh – that’s right, one-tenth of one cent per kilowatt-hour – and HQ would re-sell the power for 6 cents/kwh. That’s the deal, take it or leave it.

    The huge windfall bonanza meant that for every hundred million in sales, Newfoundland would receive only $167,000. Yup, that’s it, and Newfoundland paid for the dam and the power lines up to the Quebec border. Did they get screwed over? Sure did.

    There is no reason to think that the Province of Quebec, which finances its health care system by the sale of power to the USA, is going to be offering discounts from retail list in the future, when contracts are up for re-negotiation. Even worse, with the entire State of Vermont converted to electric, they will be the only supplier in town. Those handfuls of panels out there are not even going to blip the needle on the amount of power you will need. Unless Vermont starts buildig nuclear plants, you can bet the price of retail power from HQ will shoot to 25 cents. The cost of doing business with a foreign supplier.
  • John McClaughry
    published this page in EAI Blog 2023-05-12 02:20:30 -0400