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My Turn: Hydro-Québec power is competitive, clean

Hydro-Québec strongly objects to the erroneous information published by the Conservation Law Foundation in its July 19 letter to the Concord Monitor, signed by Christophe Courchesne.

CLF claims that the generation and delivery of Hydro-Québec hydropower to the New England market will cost New England an additional $800 million per year, and that the cost of Hydro-Québec electricity would be 15.2 cents per kilowatt hour. However, it is impossible for CLF to estimate any supplier’s cost or bid price because of the complexity and risk of the marketplace and because energy infrastructure is highly site-specific. This is especially true for a supplier like Hydro-Québec, which is connected to four North American electricity markets.

The reality is that New England is considering a process in which Québec hydropower would, for the first time, compete in an open solicitation with other sources of clean energy. Like other suppliers, Hydro-Québec would establish its bid price based on a range of factors in the New England and neighboring energy marketplaces. Importantly, the proposed New England process does not include a requirement to purchase energy, so distribution companies operating in New England would not be obligated to accept bids that are not competitive with respect to other sources of energy and do not offer a net benefit to New England.

Québec hydropower is competitive with other sources of electricity, including other sources of clean energy, offers an alternative to the fossil fuel price volatility faced by New England, and contributes to the region’s energy security. Hydro-Québec welcomes the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with other sources of clean energy as part of an evaluation to determine which resource is best for New England.

CLF asserts that hydropower greenhouse gas emissions are much higher than they actually are. They do so by cherry-picking data contained in a scientific study on emissions from a recently created reservoir in Québec. Hydro-Québec has informed CLF of their erroneous comprehension of its study on several occasions, but CLF continues to present New England stakeholders with its flawed conclusions.

What that study really indicates is that hydropower is one of the lowest-emission generating options per kilowatt hour produced. The facts on hydropower emissions, using a life-cycle analysis approach over a period of 100 years, are actually quite simple. Québec hydropower emissions are: similar to those from wind power, only a quarter of those from photovoltaic solar facilities, 40 times less than those from a gas-fired power plant and about 100 times less than those from a coal-fired plant. This is good news for New England. Over the last five years, thanks to Hydro-Québec’s net exports of electricity, the emission of over 62 million metric tons of GHGs was avoided in North America. That’s the equivalent of the annual emissions from about 15.5 million vehicles.

In Québec, electricity consumption peaks during the winter months, while in New England, it peaks during the summer months. In this regard, it is true that Hydro-Québec will likely deliver higher quantities of energy to New England in the summer than in the winter. This does not mean, however, that on most winter days Hydro-Québec cannot deliver power to New England. In fact, just this past year, from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4, when Québec experienced very high consumption due to cold temperatures, Hydro-Québec was continuously exporting over 2,100 megawatts for 90 percent of the period, even though it has no contractual obligations to do so.

Significant energy exports are available from Hydro-Québec in winter, and more will be coming online in the next several years. The New England region is wise to seek ways to evaluate and, if beneficial, secure these exports in response to its growing winter reliability problems and system needs.

Hydro-Québec has a long history of supporting New England’s energy needs and would like to see hydroelectricity recognized as a part of the solution to the energy challenges facing North America. Hydro-Québec is prepared to help the New England States meet their energy goals.

(Gary Sutherland is a spokesman for Hydro-Québec.)

Legacy Comments13

(Gary Sutherland is a spokesman for Hydro-Québec.) That line says everything we need to know about this article.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Sutherland, you cite export figures during the period Dec 23 to Jan 4 as evidence that Hydro can be relied upon for power during the cold months. What happened in the month of January? HINT: it got really cold and your power exports to the US slowed to a trickle while at the same time you were asking your Quebec customers to cut back on power usage because you didn't have enough. We are all pretty sick and tired of selective reporting. If you want to cite numbers, cite them all. And stop jerking us around. Haven't you figured out yet that we aren't as dumb as you apparently were told we were?

Hydro: You are missing the point entirely. Whoever told you that they could run Northern Pass thru NH with no trouble was dead wrong and you need to adjust your game plan. It's been 4 years now and you are nowhere, years behind schedule. Why? In plain English, WE DON'T WANT THE UGLY TOWERS THAT INSULT OUR LAND. Fix that and you've got a ballgame. Ignore it and you will not come through our state. Period.

HQ, What is the equivalence of how many million vehicle emissions you added by clearing [and/or flooding] so vast an area of carbon absorbing, oxygen generating old growth forests? Total area cleared is equal to the size of some US states and is so environmentally destructive it would be illegal in the USA. Don't try to play "green" when it's really "greed". We may buy some of your dirty hydro power - if it goes underground - but not because we think it's green. Bury it or forget it.

For Hydro Quebec to publish an Op Ed in a New Hampshire newspaper and ignore the one issue that everyone wants addressed is not only insensitive but just plain dumb. Why will Hydro Quebec not put up the money to build a responsible, respectful project in New Hampshire? If you cannot afford to do so, you should pack up your tent and go home. In the four years that this project has been on the table, you have already done enormous harm to countless landowners who are held hostage to your irresponsible proposal and cannot transact their property or, if they do, take a loss on it. You cannot believe we think well of you for this, much less care to hear your self-serving defense that lacks hard, objective data..

IN 4 years there will not be enough power for ISO to serve NE. This is a national security issue - build it now

Reagan would have never supported making America more dependent on a foreign source of electricity instead of it being made in the USA. You mean "bury it now".

a visual purist is trumped by National Security any day ..... did you know that ISO is already purchasing power for the NE Grid from out of the region . What happens if the democrats close Indian Point Power Plant?

Fear mongering about power shortages and national security is hogwash. The underground projects like Champlain Hudson and the New England Clean Power Link in Vermont will add more than enough power without needing to trash NH with no pass. It isn't just the visual aspects - there are many reasons not to like no pass - private property rights, trashing of the White Mountain National Forest, Appalachian Trail, and several NH State Parks, increased vulnerability of massive towers - some requiring 50 foot deep foundations while underground lines only require 3-4 foot depths, public health issues from electromagnetic radiation that is minimized by underground transmission. There is a long list of reasons to bury these large scale transmission lines. CT realized this years ago when they passed legislation requiring underground whenever possible. Unfortunately for NH, some of our legislators put psnh of CT contributions before the best interests of NH or we would have the same protections here. It's not about visual purity, it's about not being exploited for corporate greed when there are so many better options. You sound like the new CEOs at Market Basket telling people to get back to work. Don't you get it that corporate greed at people's expense is unpopular and wrong? You'll figure it out eventually.

Facts and lover gal are like water and oil. ISO currently purchased power a lot of KW's from an out of NE nuclear reactor - can you name the place and the amount of power purchased? PS it is the reactor democrats are trying to shutter

National security is not enhanced by making the US more dependent on foreign sources of power - It is diminished. - esp. power that has proved to be inadequate and unreliable during the times we need it the most.

I can't get past the idea they want to wreck some of our most scenic areas while their own communities have buried utilities. They clearly have contempt for our state and its value if it doesn't make money for them beyond being a cash-cow. If this it how it is at the outset - what do we expect for maintenance or anything in the future? Of course, we all value relatively cleaner energy but don't ruin our scenery to enrich your coffers! Let's be good business partners and starts with mutual respect. Bury it!

HQ strongly objects to the information put out by the CLF but gives no hard numbers of it's own to refute it. Instead they put out baloney like "Quebec hydro power emissions are a quarter of those from photovoltaic solar facilities" What are the "emissions" from solar facilities? If they are referring to the manufacturing of solar cells then they should include the emissions from the manufacturing of the concrete, rebar steel, bulldozers, fuel, and dynamite, etc. involved in constructing their massive dams. It's no wonder people object to their attempt to trash our state with their massive towers when burying the lines makes so much more sense but they use the same kind of twisted half truths to make underground sound unreasonable although it is being used all over our region and even promoted by HQ itself.

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