After reviewing economic, demographic and weather forecasts, we update our Electricity Supply Plan (in French only) and submit it to the Régie de l’énergie for approval. Based on the anticipated demand, we establish our main priorities and our actions related to power transmission, equipment and supply. The forecast for electricity demand needs to be continually updated to include the latest information on how demand is changing. In the last few years, the demand forecast was revised downward, due to factors such as economic changes that affected our large industrial customers. Anticipated available energy represents excellent business opportunities for attracting energy-intensive investors in promising sectors.

Peak power demand should reach 39,931 MW in winter 2025–2026, an increase of 2,220 MW (0.6% on average per year) compared with winter 2015–2016. This growth will come primarily from the residential, agricultural, commercial and institutional sectors.

To manage power demand, we focus on reducing electricity consumption and shifting the time of consumption away from peak periods. With our residential customers, we use programs involving interruptible electricity, three-element water heaters and dual energy systems. For business customers, we rely on the new demand response offer, designed to decrease the amount of electricity used by buildings during peak periods.

Video: Peak demand

Electricity demand is cyclical and peaks when there is a sudden increase in the energy consumed by all our customers. Demand is higher in the mornings and late afternoons when people return home from work and prepare dinner. Since most homes in Québec use electric heating, we face our biggest challenge in the coldest weather: winter peak, the time of year when demand is at its highest. (in French only)

Capacity and energy

Electric power or capacity is measured in watts (W) and corresponds to the ability to instantly respond to a request. A restaurant’s capacity, for example, is determined by its number of tables.

Energy, on the other hand, corresponds to the work performed or capable of being performed in a given timeframe. It is measured in watthours (Wh). In the restaurant example, the energy would be the number of meals that can be served in an hour, a week or a year.

During peak periods, even if there is enough food, the restaurant might run out of tables, and people would have to wait in line. For the power grid, waiting is not an option: it must be able to meet capacity demands at all times. If the consumption peak is too high, either demand must be reduced (which is possible thanks to interruptible electricity options) or additional capacity must be purchased from neighboring grids.

In cases like Hydro-Québec’s, where electricity is generated almost entirely from water, the energy reserve is based on reservoirs whose storage can be managed on a multiyear basis.

Activities in 2016

  • Thanks to our energy efficiency initiatives, we reduced power demand during winter 2015–2016 by 2,896 MW (8% of needs).
  • In winter 2016–2017, we achieved a balance between power supply and demand, and did not have to turn to short-term markets to meet peak demand.
  • We launched a commercial offer targeting commercial and institutional buildings and small- and medium-power industrial facilities. It provides financial compensation to customers who curb their power demand during peak periods. Over 280 customers are participating.
  • On the Îles de la Madeleine, we continued our efficient energy use program to encourage residential customers who have oil or propane furnaces to use these fuels—which are more efficient and less costly—instead of the electricity generated by our oil-fired plant at Cap-aux-Meules. Since December 2016, this program has also been offered to business customers.
  • We signed a long-term supply contract to purchase the output of a small hydro plant (16 MW), and we began receiving the output from three wind farms (total of 248.7 MW).
  • A first request for proposals (in French only) was issued for power generated from forest biomass to supply the community of Obedjiwan. This is the start of our process to convert off-grid systems to cleaner, less costly energy sources.
  • A committee with representatives from the Îles de la Madeleine and Hydro-Québec was formed to establish supply scenarios for the islands and integrate the community’s concerns into a request for proposals planned for 2018.
  • According to the new Electricity Supply Plan, 113 TWh of electricity will be available during 2017–2026, as supply increases and demand decreases.

See also