Representing the vast majority of unionized staff at Hydro-Quebec, CUPE has asked the Crown corporation not only to side with the February 22 decision of the Régie de l’énergie concerning the agreement with Énergir, but to also withdraw from that agreement.
This agreement requires Hydro-Québec to make payments to Énergir, a private company, to compensate it for an income shortfall. These payments would reach $1.24 billion between 2022 and 2036 and $2.4 billion until 2050 to convert gas heating systems into bi-energy systems.
The February 22 decision made by the Regroupement des organismes environnementaux en énergie (ROEÉ) prohibits Hydro-Québec from increasing the basic rates of all of its customers to pay Énergir to compensate it for declining natural gas sales.
According to CUPE and ROEÉ, this agreement would sustain the use of natural gas instead of eliminating it, contravene the polluter-pays principle and provide Énergir with very questionable subsidies. To achieve maximum reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and retain public control over energy production in Québec, CUPE, like its allies in this case, believes that full electrification of heating systems should be the objective instead. This can be done by using cold-weather heat pumps and heat accumulators and by placing increased emphasis on the vast potential of cutting-edge technology.
“This is an excellent decision as it firms up Hydro-Québec’s public mandate and its obligation to follow legislation governing its operations. Subsidizing a private company that is continuing to emit greenhouse gases with monies from increased rates charged to Hydro-Québec customers made no sense at all. This unfortunate episode must be put to rest for good. We must revisit the school of thought that prevailed at the time of the Quiet Revolution and produce clean energy to benefit all Quebeckers,” says Dominic Champagne, vice-president of the energy sector of CUPE Québec.
As the reference in energy matters, members of the energy sector, most of whom are Hydro-Québec employees, will continue to follow an approach that is both objective and apolitical to fight for a fair and green transition to protect the collective heritage of all Quebeckers.