Steps and results
In September 2022, a team of three independent accredited assessors visited the Eastmain-1 development in the territory of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government in northern Québec to measure their compliance with the Hydropower Sustainability Standard and, where appropriate, to provide a recommendation regarding certification.
The facilities subject to this assessment are Eastmain-1 generating station, Bernard-Landry generating station and Paix des Braves reservoir, as well as the structures related to the partial diversion of the Rivière Rupert. These facilities are part of the Eastmain–Sarcelle–Rupert complex. Eastmain-1 generating station and Bernard-Landry generating station were commissioned in 2006 and 2012, respectively, in Cree territory, and they were built based on a new approach involving cooperation with the region’s Indigenous communities.
The assessment team examined the documents, visited the facilities and the affected areas and interviewed numerous Hydro‑Québec employees, as well as external stakeholders and land users.
Following the assessment, it was determined that the facilities meet all the minimum requirements and a sufficient number of advanced requirements of the standard. We can therefore issue a Gold certification status recommendation.
These facilities are a major source of electricity with very low levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Despite the vast area they cover and the transformation of the associated ecosystems, their design and the mitigation measures put in place have succeeded in limiting the environmental and social impacts to acceptable levels.
The project also contributed significantly to local socio-economic development through an extensive fee program and other benefits shared with the Indigenous population. Working conditions, safety issues, corporate governance and procurement are all well managed.
The overall level of transparency and cooperation is impressive and the Crees, government organizations and Hydro‑Québec have established productive, resilient relationships despite their different roles and perspectives. This approach serves as a good example for other countries where relationships between stakeholders and hydropower companies are still often marred by conflict.
Despite the high overall performance, the assessment also identified certain shortcomings and the potential for improvement in areas such as communications, climate resilience and water quality. We hope that Hydro‑Québec will take these findings into consideration in operating its vast fleet of hydroelectric generating stations, as this would expand the impact of the certification.