June 1, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

Complete Canadian News World

Without a real big boss in hydro, we sail blindly

Without a real big boss in hydro, we sail blindly

Sophie Brochu officially stepped down as CEO of Hydro-Québec this week. And three months after announcing his departure, the government of Francois Legault still named Ms. Brochu could not find a key replacement.

I have nothing against Hydro’s executive vice-president, strategy and development, named Francois Legault as interim CEO of Hydro-Québec. However, this temporary appointment does not make him the big boss called upon to re-energize the state-owned firm for the future, addressing down-to-earth issues like the network’s greatest vulnerability. ‘Hydro- Quebec is facing the ice.

Lacking a CEO well-anchored in his role as Hydro’s big boss, we’re treated to Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon’s improvised reactions during a freezing electricity crisis, with François Legault handing over the mandate to put Hydro-Quebec in his hands. .

Not much better than 1998

Twenty-five years after the blizzard of the century that froze much of the Hydro-Québec network in 1998, we are still suffering from the cursed blizzard.

During last week’s blizzard, many parts of Quebec were not hit by downed pylons, but by the snapping of snow-laden trees.

It’s actually caused countless power outages after snow-laden trees snapping down on power lines. At the worst of the crisis, fewer than 1.1 million homes were in the dark, and most of them without heat.

If most of the Hydro-Québec wires had been buried, countless power outages would clearly have been avoided.

The question that arises: 25 years after the storm of the century, why hasn’t Hydro-Québec done the same? The simple answer we gave: the generalized burial of the wires of the hydro network, which costs a lot!

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We can’t count on the new minister in charge of Hydro-Quebec, Super Minister of the Economy Pierre Fitzgibbon, to change course and invest in burying the wires.

Fitz says no to the landfill

According to Fitzgibbon, Hydro-Québec’s new “strongman,” “buying power wires is not the solution,” he said. Oh good! I’m sorry, Mr. Fitzgibbon, but with what skill can you say that this is not the solution to solving power outages caused by snowstorms?

As far as I know, being “crowned” with the hat of minister responsible for energy does not make Pierre Fitzgibbon an expert in power distribution.

Minister Fitzgibbon said the option of burying the wires was a more expensive option. No problem.

“Are we going to put 100 billion dollars into global landfilling in Quebec? The answer is no. This is not unreasonable as Hydro-Québec already has $90 billion on its balance sheet. The number of properties should be doubled,” said Minister Fitzgibbon.

He said on Paul Arcand’s show (98.5 FM) that burying wires costs $3 million per kilometer compared to $100,000 per kilometer for overhead wire.

But if the minister tells us that burying the wires is “not the solution”, I invite him to make a little fuss.

An expert’s answer

In an interview at Press, Normand Mousseau, professor of physics and scientific director of the Trotier Energy Institute at Polytechnique Montreal, said Minister Fitzgibbon’s figure of 100 billion “doesn’t mean anything” because “no one supports” the idea. “What’s desirable are targeted burials,” he says. For example, in the city or in the suburbs, in dense neighborhoods, we can do this. It costs a bit more, but it gives us a stronger network because blackouts in those places affect a lot more people than in rural areas. »

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Pruning is preferred

Besides, if snow-covered trees were the cause of last week’s power outages, what is Hydro-Québec waiting for to invest heavily in tree trimming and delays in this matter.

On them, cut the branches that trail on the vines.

Saving pennies on cutting down trees is ridiculous from the wealthiest Crown corporations.