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Quebec has plenty of hydro power to sell

Jun 2, 2009 - Larry Rulison - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Claude Bechard, Quebec's minister of natural resources and wildlife, came to Albany Monday to offer water to Gov. David Paterson.

Not for drinking, but for making electricity.

Quebec is the fourth-largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world. With three major hydro projects under construction at a total cost of $13 billion, the Canadian province will have a lot of surplus power to export to the United States.

Before meeting with Paterson's cabinet, Bechard spoke Monday to the Times Union about Quebec's hopes to boost the electricity it sells into the New York market.

Since nearly 95 percent of the electricity generated in Quebec comes from state-owned hydro plants, Bechard is counting on New York to see power from the province as a clean way to meet energy needs here, as well as aggressive goals on renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction.

"We're really looking for a long partnership," he said. "We don't pretend we're the only solution. We are part of the solution."

Bechard planned to meet Monday with Paul DeCotis, Paterson's deputy secretary for energy, and Pete Grannis, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, among others.

One of the main issues in selling more power into the New York market is the transmission lines that bring the electricity across the border. Currently, about 1,700 megawatts can flow into New York -- but Quebec would like to increase that.

One model for change would be a deal Hydro-Quebec negotiated with two New England utilities, Northeast Utilities in Connecticut and NSTAR in Massachusetts. They will finance the U.S. portion of a transmission line from Quebec to New Hampshire, and Hydro-Quebec will supply 1,200 megawatts of power annually to New England for 20 years.

Quebec currently can produce about 46,000 megawatts of power, 43,000 megawatts of that coming from hydropower.


Updated: 2003/07/28