The materiality analysis is useful in determining the content of Hydro-Québec’s Sustainability Report and sustainable development Web site. This ensures that the report and site cover the topics that are of the greatest materiality as regards our business environment, the nature of our projects and operations, and their economic, environmental and social impacts. Carried out in collaboration with our internal and external stakeholders, the analysis involves four steps.


The first stage called for updating the list of sustainability aspects related to Hydro-Québec’s operations and to their impacts. Various internal and external information sources were used for this, including:

  • Results of the consultation exercise conducted in 2011 for the Sustainability Report 2011
  • Results of the survey of stakeholder satisfaction carried out following publication of the Sustainability Report 2012
  • Material Aspects of the Global Reporting Initiative and its Electric Utilities Sector Supplement
  • Analyses of energy industry aspects, such as those produced by the Electric Power Research Institute, International Hydropower Association, International Hydropower Association and Canadian Electricity Association
  • A benchmarking analysis of aspects discussed by three other companies in the energy industry
  • The company’s strategic priorities
  • The Sustainable Development Action Plan 2013−2016

This stage yielded a definition of 34 aspects related to sustainability and of their boundaries based on where the impacts occur. A definition was drawn up for each of the aspects to ensure a common understanding. Hydro-Québec also updated its list of stakeholders, using the following major categories:

  • Industry associations
  • Other government corporations
  • Customers
  • Local communities
  • Suppliers
  • Media
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Economic partners
  • Government
  • Universities


Hydro-Québec then prioritized its stakeholders, based on this new list. Priority stakeholders were identified according to three criteria: influence, impact and responsibility. Various consultation methods were employed, depending on the different categories: a survey for all stakeholders, discussion sessions for priority stakeholders, and a concurrent approach for Aboriginal communities.

In September 2014, an electronic survey was conducted of the stakeholders identified to assess the relative importance of each aspect, based on their information requirements. This exercise enabled the company to determine the aspects it should elaborate further in the Sustainability Report.

Out of 250 invitations issued to take part in the survey, 91 organizations and 57 Hydro-Québec managers and employees responded. The survey results are shown in the Materiality Matrix, which illustrates the findings of the Hydro-Québec assessment and of the assessment made by stakeholders.


Based on the stakeholder prioritization, three discussion sessions with external stakeholders were held in 2014; in all, 27 organizations took part. One session was also held in October with 11 representatives of Hydro-Québec’s divisions. At these sessions, the internal and external stakeholders expressed their views of the survey results. In their opinion, the results accurately reflected the positive and negative impacts of Hydro-Québec operations. The participants went on to specify the type of information they would like to receive, namely: strictly qualitative information, quantitative information including historic trends, comparison with peers, etc. Special attention was paid to the eight most material aspects in order to determine the nature of the information expected by stakeholders.

Additional aspects proposed by the survey respondents were also discussed. The participants suggested that five of them, which were deemed material, be covered in the next materiality analysis: the carbon market, the company’s processes for internalizing environment-related costs, impact assessments and environmental follow-ups for major projects, resource consumption for infrastructures (steel, concrete, etc.) and a comparison, whenever possible, between Hydro-Québec’s performance and that of similar companies in other regions, or between hydropower and other energy options.


In November 2013, Hydro-Québec surveyed stakeholders to ascertain whether the structure and content of the Sustainability Report 2012 met their expectations. More than 93% of respondents stated that they were completely or fairly satisfied with the structure of the report, with an overall satisfaction rate of 7.7 out of 10 as regards the content. Their comments and suggestions were taken into account in the new materiality analysis.

A satisfaction survey was conducted of participants in the sessions held in 2014. Close to 96% of them were satisfied or very satisfied with the survey, while 96% also found their participation in the discussion session to be relevant. Hydro-Québec will verify the satisfaction of stakeholders consulted in 2014 following publication of the Sustainability Report 2014 to ensure that the new report meets their expectations.

Materiality analysis

Review of stakeholder consultation exercise – 2014

In fall 2014, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton assisted Hydro-Québec in carrying out its materiality analysis. Our team worked with Hydro-Québec to update its list of sustainability aspects and its list of stakeholders, and to conduct a survey of a group of representative stakeholders in order to prioritize the aspects. We then led discussion sessions with external stakeholders and a session with Hydro-Québec managers and employees so as to elaborate on the results obtained and better define the expectations expressed. The foregoing description of the various stages is fully consistent with the work performed.

Johanne Gélinas, Partner, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Review of stakeholder feedback exercise – 2015

On October 7, 2015, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton assisted Hydro-Québec in organizing and leading a feedback workshop bringing together around 40 of the company’s internal and external stakeholders. The goal of the workshop was to evaluate stakeholders’ assessment of the Sustainability Report 2014 in order to prepare for publication of the next report.

The workshop proceeded as follows. First, Guy Lefebvre, Team Coordinator – Sustainability Management, explained how the comments made during the materiality analysis were incorporated into the report. Next, the participants were asked to share their assessment of the report and its Materiality Analysis section. They were also invited to provide their comments on a section of the report that related to a topic of professional or personal interest. The discussion covered the report’s 10 main themes: i) governance, ii) climate change, biodiversity and environmental management, iii) demand-side management, iv) energy portfolio, v) acceptability and spinoffs of projects and operations, vi) responsibility for electricity service, vii) technological innovation, viii) health and safety, ix) human resources and x) investing in the community.

Generally speaking, the Sustainability Report is appreciated by stakeholders. Areas for improvement were noted, regarding both the coverage of the topics and the way the information is organized. A detailed summary of the meeting was drawn up with the Hydro-Québec team and distributed to the participants.

Johanne Gélinas, Partner, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Review of stakeholder feedback exercise – 2016

In October 2016, we conducted a survey of around 40 of the company’s internal and external stakeholders that had taken part in a responsiveness workshop held a year earlier. The survey evaluated their assessment of the Sustainability Report 2015 in order to measure their satisfaction with the integration of their comments, in particular.

The survey consisted of seven questions. The first six went over the suggestions for improvement expressed by the workshop participants on various topics, along with specific details on how we had incorporated their comments into the report. The topics covered were: value chain, carbon balance, social acceptability and spinoffs of projects and operations, transportation electrification, management of energy demand and peak capacity deficits, and the links between the report’s different sections. The last question dealt with the stakeholders’ overall assessment of the report.

The rate of participation was 25%. The level of satisfaction regarding the company’s response to each of the proposed areas for improvement was over 80%. A majority of respondents considered the improvement to be very good or beyond their expectations. The overall level of satisfaction with the Sustainability Report 2015 was nearly 90%.

A new materiality analysis will be conducted for the preparation of the Sustainability Report 2017.

This diagram presents the main sustainability issues identified by Hydro-Québec and its stakeholders according to the importance of each issue, from low to high. The most important issues are:

  1. Social acceptability of projects
  2. Electricity supply
  3. Atmospheric emissions and impact of climate change
  4. Legal compliance
  5. Social acceptability of projects
  6. Electricity supply
  7. Atmospheric emissions and impact of climate change
  8. 8iodiversity management
  9. Technological Innovation
  10. Contribution to transportation electrification
  11. Public and consumer health and safety
  12. Legal compliance
  13. Energy Portfolio
  14. Ethical management practices

Definition and boundary of aspects

Definition and boundary of aspects
Rank Aspect Definition Boundary
1 Social acceptability of projects Relations with local communities, including project-related information, consultation and engagement with stakeholders, as well as consideration of the concerns expressed. Mixed
2 Electricity supply Distribution, transmission and generation system development, reliability, demand-side management, electricity surplus Internal
3 Atmospheric emissions and impact of climate change Management of atmospheric emissions related to Hydro-Québec operations (e.g., SO2, NOx), greenhouse gas and the impact of climate change on the organization (operating risk) Mixed
4 Biodiversity management Protection and restoration of protected areas, natural habitats and wildlife, and the impacts of operations on biodiversity and land Mixed
5 Technological innovation R&D leading to introduction of new technologies (e.g., energy efficiency, long-term operability of facilities, renewable energies, university partnerships, etc.) Internal
6 Contribution to transportation electrification Support for rollout of transportation electrification infrastructure (public transit and electric cars), as well as development and marketing of related new technologies (e.g., batteries, materials, electric motor systems, etc.) Mixed
7 Public and consumer health and safety Protection of the public and consumers, including facility and system security, introduction of emergency plans, compliance with public health standards (e.g., electric and magnetic fields, mercury in reservoirs) External
8 Legal compliance Compliance with laws and regulations, and Hydro-Québec contribution to government sustainability strategies Mixed
9 Energy portfolio Choice of energy options (conventional, emerging, self-generation), diversity of generation options and electricity supply, as well as their impact on rates Mixed
10 Ethical management practices Internal policies and practices that prevent risks of collusion, corruption and conflicts of interest Internal
11 Water body management Use of water bodies to generate electricity, including management of instream flows and the impacts of reservoirs (e.g., impact on navigation, etc.) Mixed
12 Energy efficiency for customers Support offered to customers to promote energy efficiency in their facilities (e.g., buildings, industrial systems, equipment, etc.) External
13 Environmentally responsible management practices Initiatives to improve the organization’s performance, introduction of management systems (e.g., ISO 14001, OSHA 18001 and BOMA BESt certification, etc.) and management of waste and hazardous materials (reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery) Internal
14 Relations with Aboriginal communities Relations with Aboriginal communities affected by or with an interest in projects or operations External
15 Spinoffs of projects and operations Direct and indirect economic impacts on local communities, from infrastructure investments, job creation, industrial tourism (visits to Hydro-Québec facilities) External
16 Land use Management of generation, transmission and distribution impacts on land and landscape (undergrounding, access rights, obtaining servitudes, etc.) External
17 Management of contaminated land Management of leaks and spills into the environment, management of contaminated land Mixed
18 Procurement practices Local purchasing practices and responsible procurement, including selection of suppliers and materials, supplier evaluation and awareness, etc. External
19 System energy efficiency Measures implemented at Hydro-Québec to increase system efficiency and reduce system energy losses Internal
20 Electricity exports Electricity sales outside the province (e.g. to the United States), specifically the quantity exported and its profitability Internal
21 Universal access to service Practices and programs for low-income customers and those with payment difficulties, and service development programs for isolated communities External
22 Electricity prices Development of rate grids and changes in electricity prices for different customer categories (residential, small-, medium- and large-power customers) External
23 Community investments Philanthropic programs including donations and sponsorships, employee volunteering, fundraising campaigns and the Integrated Enhancement Program Mixed
24 Financial viability The organization’s financial performance, risk management and internal efficiency programs (e.g., optimization of administrative processes, etc.) Internal
25 Employee health and safety Programs to support the social, psychological and physical health of Hydro-Québec employees Internal
26 Relations with governments Organization’s positioning with government institutions and their representatives (e.g., Régie de l’énergie, Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, NERC, FERC, etc.) Mixed
27 Vegetation control Vegetation management in facility rights-of-way (transmission lines, dikes, dams, distribution system, etc.) to maintain system security and reliability Internal
28 Customer service Assistance available to consumers by email or telephone (e.g., when outages occur, to answer questions, etc.) External
29 Heritage management Programs to protect and enhance built, technological, natural and archaeological heritage, and promote public awareness Mixed
30 Diversity and equal opportunity Internal practices and policies relating to equal opportunity for employees (compensation, recruitment, training, promotions), recognition and respect for diversity of individuals and opinions Internal
31 Measurement of consumption Rollout of an advanced metering infrastructure (next-generation meters) to improve billing service and outage detection Mixed
32 Information management Internal policies and practices on protection of personal information and access to information Mixed
33 Jobs and working conditions Information on the workforce and all benefits negotiated or granted to employees (compensation, benefits) Internal
34 Training and skills development Training offered to employees as well as skills development and succession management programs Internal