Interruptible Electricity Options

170 MW curtailed—enough to power the population of Rimouski during the month of January.

Video document:
Total time: 1 min 59 s

When temperatures plummet across Québec and the high energy demand puts Hydro‑Québec’s grid under intense pressure, the two Contrecœur plants operated by ArcelorMittal Long Products Canada (AMLPC) spring into action. The leading steel manufacturer and processor makes substantial sacrifices to ensure Hydro‑Québec—and all Quebecers—have enough power to get through the winter peaks. Why? Because AMLPC considers it its responsibility to support Québec when the demand for electricity is especially high.

An enduring partnership

ArcelorMittal Long Products Canada pledged its commitment to responsible energy use 30 years ago—long before Québec moved to decarbonize its economy—to help ensure the wiser use of Québec’s collective resources and, by the same token, give concrete expression to the company’s environmental and civic values.

At the time, the Hydro‑Québec account representative steered AMLPC toward rate options that enable power management during peak periods. AMLPC ended up choosing one of the Interruptible Electricity Options. Intended for large industrial enterprises that require significant amounts of energy, these rate options help balance power supply and demand in Québec during periods of high consumption. Participating organizations agree to reduce their electricity use at Hydro‑Québec’s request and receive credits on their bill in return.

“I’m an AMLPC employee and a dad. I absolutely understand household electricity needs in the mornings and evenings during peak periods,” said Alexandre Labrie, senior director of supply and transport. “Our participation is a significant challenge and also a significant achievement we’re proud of.”

That sense of pride and of working for the benefit of the community is what drove the company to remain proactive, continuously improve its processes and always strive to do more. As a result, AMLPC is committed to curtailing 170 megawatts of its annual electricity use—enough to power the population of Rimouski during the month of January—through efforts that make it a leader in sustainable energy use.

Powering down so Québec can stay warm

It would be impossible to achieve these reductions without considerable effort. The crux of the matter are AMLPC’s electric arc furnaces since they consume the most electricity (to smelt the ore and process it into steel). When Hydro‑Québec issues a peak demand notification, the Contrecœur facilities are mobilized to start shutting down the furnaces during the appointed times, usually between 5 and 10 a.m. and 3 and 8 p.m. Just when Quebecers are relying on the grid to keep warm, AMPLC is powering down its plants.

The interruption is a complex process that raises a host of critical questions for AMLPC. How many hours of operation are left before the furnaces are shut down? Could any planned downtime in the coming days be rescheduled earlier than anticipated? What deliverables are customers expecting and must be produced? Those concerns are among the many considered as the plants reorganize their operations and go over their plans to limit losses. The manufacturer then makes the most of the slowdowns to carry out servicing and maintenance.

AMLPC must also winterize its equipment. When the furnaces are in operation, they generate so much heat that the excess is dispersed. But when they’re at a standstill and the buildings get cold quickly, issues like frozen pipes can create problems on restart. The more peak demand events there are, the more challenges arise.

A socially responsible company

Taking advantage of an Interruptible Electricity Option over so many years has made AMLPC an undisputed leader in responsibly energy use.

But is it worth all the effort? AMLPC’s executives believe it is. On top of the credit it receives from Hydro‑Québec, the steel manufacturer is determined to make a contribution that benefits all Quebecers.

Maintenance coordinator Donald Fougères shares this view: “I’m an ArcelorMittal employee and a Quebecer. When needs are greater during peak periods, it’s important to make sure there’s enough electricity for every household. It’s a role companies like ours must take on. It’s a duty.”

A significant contribution to society

Implementing such bold measures took close cooperation between AMLPC and Hydro‑Québec. There were periods when Hydro-Québec account representative Manon Boulianne and ArcelorMittal’s electricity management team were in touch on a regular basis, sometimes even twice a week.

“ArcelorMittal Long Products Canada is very focused on using every megawatt to its full potential,” Manon Boulianne explained. “It’s also stepping up its energy efficiency measures company-wide, including in its offices. There’s no doubt the organization is genuinely committed to doing its part. It’s a significant contribution to society.”

About ArcelorMittal Long Products Canada

A key player in Canada’s steel industry, ArcelorMittal Long Products Canada specializes in the manufacture of semi-finished products dedicated mostly to the construction and automotive markets but also to other industrial uses. The company has locations in Québec and Ontario, and it’s main production facilities are in Contrecœur. They include a direct reduction plant, two steel plants, a bar mill and a wire rod mill. Elsewhere in Québec, AMLPC also operates a bar mill, a wire mill and a steel recycling center.

Part of ArcelorMittal’s North America group, AcelorMittal Long Products Canada is committed to exemplary corporate citizenship. Using collective resources wisely, minimizing the environmental impact of its activities and ensuring the best possible future for the next generations through sustainability are the guiding principles by which AMLPC achieves its mission to produce better steel for people and the planet.

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