Canada: Québec's New Energy Policy

The Québec Government has unveiled its energy policy for 2016-2030, entitled "Politique énergétique 2030, L'énergie des Québécois – Source de croissance" (Energy Policy 2030, The Energy of Quebecers – a Source of Growth). The policy is the result of two major public consultations that took place in 2013 and 2015. It follows the previous policy in effect from 2006 until 2015 and aims to set out a clear vision of energy development in Québec as well as addressing the concerns of certain stakeholders.

Objectives and Targets

The new policy is based on the following objectives:

  • Promote a low carbon economy
  • Optimally enhance energy resources
  • Encourage responsible consumption
  • Exploit the full potential of energy efficiency
  • Stimulate the chain of technological and social innovation

The policy identifies five major targets to be met by 2030:

  • Increase energy efficiency by 15%
  • Reduce amount of petroleum products consumption by 40%
  • Eliminate use of thermal coal-based energy
  • Increase total renewable energy production by 25%
  • Increase bioenergy production by 50%

The policy also outlines other equally ambitious targets:

  • Double the revenue of Hydro-Québec over the next 15 years
  • Increase the number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road to one million by 2030

The Concepts of "Energy Transition" and "New Energy Pact"

In its policy, the Government believes the global fight against climate change is forcing consumers to make an "energy transition" in order to reduce their energy needs and to promote renewable or low GHG emitting energy. The result is a "new energy pact" in which the Québec Government and each citizen must invest.

Over the next 15 years, the Government will take measures based on the following guiding principles:

  • Ensure an integrated oversight of the energy transition (see below)
  • Promote the transition to an economy with a low carbon footprint, particularly by addressing the energy consumption of households and businesses and commuting and industrial transportation habits
  • Offer a renewed and diversified supply of energy to consumers, including through gains in energy efficiency and increased supply of green electricity
  • Set a new approach concerning fossil fuels (see below)

The Integrated Oversight of the Energy Transition

The Québec Government is committed to:

  • Creating a public body dedicated to saving energy and the energy transition;
  • Reviewing the current role of the Régie de l'énergie;
  • Modernizing the approval process for energy projects.

The New Hydro-Québec Strategic Plan

The Government has mandated Hydro-Québec to carry out a strategic review. The Government-owned entity must:

  • Attain efficiencies in order to ensure that increases in electricity rates are lower than inflation
  • Assert its contribution to the Plan Nord and to the electrification of transportation
  • Conduct an evaluation of wind energy development in Québec and of its energy efficiency practices
  • Set out in detail its contribution to the Government's commitment on transparency

Wind Power

The policy also confirms the Government's renewed interest in wind energy. Wind power will form a part of the strategy to increase the supply of green energy and is expected to replace dirtier energy sources in Northern Québec.

According to the Government, the continued development of wind energy is desirable only to the extent that the impact on consumers is limited and to the extent that any additional supply of energy is required in order to meet any fluctuations in Québec's annual electricity needs.

Small Hydroelectric Stations

The policy provides that small hydroelectric projects will serve as sources of economic development for local and indigenous communities. The Government will ensure that such projects meet the highest environmental and social acceptability standards, in addition to generating economic benefits for local and indigenous peoples.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is recognized as a profitable source of transition energy for Québec and will be called upon to play an important role in supporting the economic development of Québec, including in Northern Québec, for the decades to come.

The Government seeks to ensure reliable, secure and stable access to natural gas throughout Québec wherever demand and economic efficiency are met.

To that end, the Government plans to expand the current natural gas network, develop a supply network for liquefied natural gas and increase production of renewable natural gas.

The New Approach for Fossil Fuels

The Government aims to adopt a "new approach for fossil fuels" and will focus on:

  • Safe transport of oil and petroleum products
  • Responsible development of hydrocarbons in Québec
  • Social acceptability of hydrocarbon projects in host communities
  • Enforcement of the strictest environmental standards and techniques

The Government also plans to further clarify the legal framework governing such projects, including the adoption of new hydrocarbon legislation.

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