Our approach

Energy transition and innovation

Managing electricity consumption in a northern climate

We offer energy efficiency programs to encourage our customers to reduce their energy consumption.

Quebecers are among the world’s largest consumers of electricity. This is due to two main factors: the large amount of energy needed for heating during our harsh winters and the low cost of electricity in Québec.

Almost all of the electricity consumed in the province is generated by water and wind. We also buy electricity generated from other renewable sources such as biomass. Throughout the year, power sales and exchanges take place with other Canadian provinces and neighboring U.S. states.

We currently have a number of contracts for deliveries of electricity generated by other sources such as wind power, biomass and small hydro.

Hydro-Québec Distribution’s Long-Term Non- Heritage Integrated System Supply (Under Contract)
Energy source Number of contracts signed Peak capacity (MW) Annual output (TWh) 2019 Annual output (TWh) 2026
Biomass 21 338 1.9 2.5
Wind power 38 1,486 11.3 11.3
Cogeneration 1 8 0.1  
Small hydro 9 122 0.5 0.6
Other sources 3 600 3.3 3.7
Hydro‑Québec Production 3 500 0.1 0.2
Total 75 3,055 17.1 18.4

Supply is the electricity we can deliver to you, whereas demand corresponds to your electricity needs. Our Electricity Supply Plan 2017–2026 provides a detailed explanation of the balance between supply and demand. In addition, we offer a number of tools to help you use energy more wisely in cold weather, especially during peak periods.

Net electricity sales outside Québec - 2018

Proportion of sales outside Québec in 2018, New England: 47 %, New-York: 24% , Ontario: 19 %, New Brunswick: 7 %, Other: 3,0 % and Total: 36,1 TWh

Watch the video on our exports (in French)

Achieving green autonomy: Hydro-Québec’s off-grid systems

Several villages in remote regions are not connected to the main power grid and are supplied by off-grid systems. A portion of the electricity from these systems is generated using fossil fuels. Hydro-Québec operates off-grid systems in five regions: Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Nunavik, Basse-Côte-Nord, Schefferville and Haute Mauricie.

The process to partially or totally convert the off-grid systems to cleaner energy sources is currently under way. All systems will be converted by 2025.

In 2018, these off-grid systems generated 312 GWh of power to serve some 18,500 customers. They include 23 thermal power plants (131 MW) as well as two hydraulic generating stations, Lac-Robertson (21.6 MW) and Menihek (17 MW). Menihek belongs to a third party.

What is the most economical and ecological way of managing electricity consumption? Energy efficiency.

Using electricity wisely means making enlightened choices. There are simple things we can do every day to collectively reduce our energy consumption. This way, we can avoid the extra costs associated with purchasing electricity or adding more equipment.

The company offers several energy efficiency initiatives adapted to its various customers (i.e., residential, business, low-income and in remote regions) to help them save money.

2018 highlights

Innovating to serve our customers

The Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage has a dry room dedicated to lithium-ion battery assembly.

Since our customers are central to our approach, we need to understand what motivates them to adopt emerging technologies. Our customers’ needs and our commitment to the energy transition are what drive our research.

We are actively involved in transportation electrification and in researching alternative fuels like hydrogen. We also develop renewable energies and innovative technologies that integrate storage, self-generation and home automation management systems to better meet the needs of tomorrow’s customers.

The energy transition relies in good part on technologial innovation in the following areas:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Smart grid management
  • The optimization of energy use

Breakdown of IREQ innovation efforts relates to sustainability

This graph shows the breakdown of IREQ innovation efforts related to sustainability: Environment: 6.0%, Asset sustainment and service continuity: 76.0%, Energy use – customers and equipment: 11.0%,Technology and integration of intermittent renewables: 7.0%.

2018 highlights

According to Research Infosource, Hydro-Québec was the top Canadian power utility for R&D spending. With an annual budget of $116 million, the company’s research Institute, IREQ, develops state-of-the-art technology in multiple fields related to power systems and renewable energy

Moving towards cleaner transportation

Vehicle charging at a 400‑V charging station.

Transportation electrification is happening: electric vehicle drivers have access to more and more charging station in Québec. We are continuing to make our customers aware of the advantages of electric vehicles and our researchers are developing the materials for tomorrow’s batteries.

Québec not only has an abundance of clean, affordable energy, but also motorization and energy storage solutions, which are are key assets in efficient transportation.

Since the transportation sector is the main source of GHG emissions in Québec, the adoption of electric vehicles, active transportation and public transit is an important way to reduce air pollution.

Hydro-Québec contributes financially to strategic projects and participates in the pilot projects of public transit authorities. For the transport of merchandise and to meet its own transportation needs, the company collaborates on pilot projects for charging vehicle fleets and works to electrify its own fleet.

2018 highlights

  • Inauguration of the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, which has an annual budget of $32 million. The Center’s R&D activities focus on advanced lithium-ion batteries and solid-state lithium-polymer batteries.
  • Participation in the Movin’On World Summit in Sustainable Mobility in Montréal, which brought together more than 4,000 attendees, including automakers, companies and researchers, and municipal and government representatives.

Capitalizing on solar power

Solar power is becoming less and less expensive to generate and it could soon replace energy generated by natural gas, oil and coal. Solar power represents business opportunities for Hydro-Québec. In fact, our current development strategies include the construction of solar generating stations.

The energy transition is also an opportunity to:

  • Maximize export revenue
  • Pursue acquisitions outside Québec
  • Boost power grid flexibility

The market transition to solar power generated by photovoltaic (PV) panels could affect the operations of power industry companies like Hydro-Québec on many levels, including:

  • Decreased energy consumption
  • Rate changes
  • Demand forecasting
  • Balance of supply and demand
  • Increase in light load periods

Changing Cost of Photovoltaic Solar Power Systems – U.S. Residential Market (2010–2017)

This chart shows the decrease in the cost of various components and in the installation of solar panels. In 2010, a solar panel cost US$7.24 per Watt, whereas in 2017, a solar panel cost US$2.80 per Watt.

Hydropower and the environment

The many benefits of hydropower

Daniel-Johnson dam, a powerful symbol of Québec’s expertise in hydroelectricity.

Québec has vast hydraulic resources in the form of some 500,000 lakes and 4,500 rivers. Our landscape bears witness to the immense hydroelectric potential we have been able to develop over time.

Hydropower, whose impacts are known and controlled, offers an ideal solution to the major challenges faced by North America in:

  • reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • ensuring a secure supply of electricity

The mercury issue

Reservoir impoundment temporarily increases fish mercury levels, but these return to normal after 10 to 35 years, depending on the fish species and the type of reservoir. This phenomenon is closely monitored and fish consumption recommendations are issued as needed.

Find out more about mercury in hydroelectric reservoirs

GHG emissions and reservoirs

Impoundment of hydroelectric reservoirs induces decomposition of a small fraction of the flooded biomass (forests and peatlands, for example) and an increase in the aquatic wildlife and vegetation in the reservoir. The result is higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after impoundment, mainly CO2 (carbon dioxide) and a small amount of CH4 (methane). However, these emissions are temporary and peak two to four years after the reservoir is filled.

Greenhouse gas emissions and reservoirs

Comparing power generation options and electricity mixes

According to a study by CIRAIG, the GHG emission rate of hydropower, calculated based on a life-cycle assessment (LCA), is very similar to that of nuclear or wind power, but is much lower than that of other power generation options.
The study shows that the GHG emission rate of hydropower is five times lower than that of PV solar power, 50 times lower than natural-gas-fired thermal, and 70 times lower than coal-fired thermal generation.

Comparing power generation options and electricity mixes report

Hydroelectric developments and fish

All new hydro projects entail environmental studies, mitigation and compensation measures, and several years of follow-up studies after their commissioning. The environmental and fish-related issues involved differ for each project.

Consult our studies and publications on hydroelectric developments and fish

For more information, follow these links:

Québec power: A solution in the fight against climate change

A project to connect the Îles de la Madeleine to the main grid is in the draft-design phase.

Some 99.8% of the electricity we deliver to you is clean, renewable power that contributes to preserving air quality and reducing the effects of climate change. However, some of our operations emit atmospheric contaminants and produce greenhouse gases, or GHGs, for which mitigation measures are implemented.

GHG emissions are one of the main causes of the deterioration in the quality of life of living species.

If we are to correct this situation, we must decarbonize! The objective of decarbonization it to replace hydrocarbons used to make or use products with an energy source that produces no GHG emissions.

Electricity as green energy

AThe power industry is responsible for 12% of all GHG emissions in Canada, but less than 1% in Québec. Québec’s outstanding record in this repect is largely due to that fact that hydroelectricity—which is clean, renewable energy—constitutes almost all the power generated by Hydro-Québec.

In addition, the company strives to not only reduce the GHG emissions produced by its operations, but also to preserve biodiversity and manage environmental impacts as part of its business processes.

With abundant, affordable, zero-carbon electricity at their disposal, Québec companies have a competitive edge over those operating within fossil-fuel-dependent economies. Many organizations throughout the world are joining the fight against climate change by opting to use clean electricity to meet their energy needs.

Zero emissions: Hydro-Québec’s solution for the Northeastern U.S.

For the past two decades, Hydro-Québec has been selling environmentally friendly, competitively priced electricity to neighboring systems. Québec’s hydropower benefits our neighbours in two ways, in that it minimizes GHG emissions and is sold at very stable prices.

The companies we do business with consume energy from several sources, some of which generate more atmospheric emissions (coal, oil and natural gas, for example) than others (hydro, solar or nuclear).

Emissions avoided by net electricity exports

This graph shows exports and emissions avoided from 2015 to 2018 (t éq. CO2). 2015: 7,374; 2016: 7,954; 2017 : 8362; 2018: 7 902.

The clear choice – adapting to climate change

Hydro-Québec is increasingly aware of the effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions on its operations, whether from violent winds, tornadoes or more frequent heavy precipitation.

For the past 17 years, Hydro-Québec has been collaborating with Ouranos, a research consortium established by the Québec government, Environment Canada and Hydro-Québec in 2001, to better understand climate change and its effects. Together, these organizations are working to find solutions that will enable us to adapt to these changes.

2018 highlights

Adoption by Senior Management of two recommendations made by an internal committee that documented the effects of climate change on Hydro-Québec’s operations.

Environmental management

We implement various measures to help maintain biodiversity.

Our large-scale infrastructure projects and current operations have impacts on the environment. We do our utmost to reduce or mitigate these negative effects by reducing our atmospheric pollutant emissions, preserving soil and water, protecting biodiversity and promoting ecoresponsible consumption.

The objective of environmental management is to take into account, assess and reduce the environmental impact of the company’s operations.

Hydro-Québec carefully monitors its projects during construction and carries out rigorous environmental follow-up of all its facilities in operation.

We have incorporated environmental and social criteria into our process for acquiring goods and services. This practice aims to reduce environmental impacts, increase social spinoffs and enhance the economic viability of our suppliers.

Recovery and reuse of insulating oil (litres)

Recovery and reuse of insulating oil: 2018: 96.2% of insulation oil was reused, 2017: 97.5% of insulating oil was reused, 2016: 87.9% of insulating oil was reused, 2015: 93.3% of insulating oil was reused
Recovered oil suffices for all the company’s requirements. This oil is decontaminated and regenerated for reuse in equipment. Oil that cannot be regenerated is reclaimed as energy.

ISO 14001 standard

For more information on environmental management at Hydro-Québec, consult our latest sustainability report.

2018 highlights

We saved 2.3 million litres of drinking water under our program for refurbishing administrative buildings. This program has generated savings of 287 million litres since 2007.

Biodiversity

As part of its operations, Hydro-Québec works to preserve biodiversity and protect species at risk and various ecosystems. For example we always make sure that the areas we develop are comparable to the surrounding natural environment in terms of species diversity and biological productivity.

2018 highlights
  • An urban beekeeping program was implemented on the lot of the Lebourgneuf administration center. The hive pollenated flowers and trees within a 3-km radius and produced 15 kg of honey. The objective of the program was to make our personnel aware of the decline in the bee population and the role bees may play in preserving biodiversity. More than 100 jars of the harvested honey were sold to our employees. The company matched the proceeds and donated them to Centraide. (Québec)
  • A study was conducted of the natural concentration of wild eels and those transferred on their way through the Beauharnois Canal. (Montérégie)

Corporate responsibility and social commitment

Powering communities

Chute à Ménard pedestrian bridge in Saint-Michel-des-Saints

We support Québec’s cultural, social and economic life with donations and sponsorships for programs and activities in specific areas. In this way, we fund concrete initiatives whose positive environmental and social impacts serve the interests of local communities throughout Québec.

Investing in the community enables Hydro-Québec to:

  • Strengthen our corporate citizenship
  • Maintain or improve our community relations
  • Promote our strategies, programs and services.

Community investments ($K) by category from 2015 to 2018
Category 2015 2016 2017 2018
Donations and Sponsorships, including Centraide 16,755 17,526 19,107 19,078
Educational institutions 6,493 5,881 3,274 3,170
Integrated Enhancement Program 1,584 3,001 4,213 3,350
Fondation Hydro-Québec pour l’environnement 964 971 738 765
Othera 788 716 857 958
Total 26,584 28,095 28,207 27,321

a. The Other category includes Youth Products, the art collection and presentations at universities and colleges.

Social acceptability and public participation

Transmission line in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, between Mont-Joli and Sainte-Angèle-de-Mérici, successfully incorporated into the landscape.

Every year, we study or carry out around 1,100 construction and refurbishment projects. The vast majority of these projects involve the maintenance of our facilities and have no impact on the environment.

Every project is unique and the measures taken to promote social acceptability may vary, depending on the host community’s expectations.

A project’s social acceptance does not necessarily mean there is no opposition, but rather that as broad a consensus as possible has been achieved. By securing public participation and working stakeholders from the beginning of its projects, Hydro-Québec encourages communities to be involved in project planning and in creating the conditions that will make the projects acceptable and mutually beneficial.

2018 highlights

  • • Meetings of the Hydro-Québec–Union des producteurs agricoles liaison committee were held to discuss the company’s activities and projects on farmland and in forests, particularly in regard to the maintenance and construction of power transmission infrastructure. A special committee on stray voltage was set up to monitor the Chamouchouane–Judith-Jasmin transmission line, which is scheduled for commissioning in 2019.
  • • A presentation was given to representatives from Saint-André-d’Argenteuil on the long-term operability projects planned at Carillon generating station and the work to prepare for spring runoff. (Laurentides)

Relations with Indigenous communities

Power system technician Nancy Pelchat on the job, Robert-Bourassa generating station.

Indigenous communities are unique and we believe it is important that their cultures and traditional land-use activities be respected. With this in mind, we adapt our practices and processes to their reality and strive to foster mutually beneficial partnerships with them.

Found throughout Québec, Indigenous companies supply Hydro-Québec with a number of products and services and are often associated with local procurement. In 2018, contracts worth $97 million (3% of all contracts) were awarded to Indigenous companies.

Percentage of contracts awarded to Indigenous companies in 2018 by goods and services category
Goods and services category Percentage (%)
Air services 33.81
Building operation and maintenance 31.23
Building construction 14.34
Road construction 5.98
Vegetation control 3.79
Power generation infrastructure 2.88
Environmental services 2.69
Othera 5.29
Total 100.00

a. The Other category encompasses undetermined products and services, telecommunications network construction, power line maintenance, petroleum products, computer hardware, telecommunications and related services, transportation infrastructure, corporate services, transmission services and logistics, and signage.

Watch our tribute to the Innu workers at the Romaine jobsite (in French)

2018 highlights
  • Presentations were given in the Atikamekw community of Manawan on water management in the Rivière Saint-Maurice and on the securing of Manouane-A dam.
  • Some fifteen collections of humanities and social sciences journals about Indigenous communities were donated. The Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute acquired some of the collections, including the Canadian Journal of Native Studies, The Nation, Journal Pekuakamiulnuatsh and The Eastern Door.

Land use

Land use and development in Québec requires an integrated multidisciplinary approach.

Hydro-Québec takes land-use planning into account in managing its operations and carrying out its projects. It continually reviews its practices and processes to ensure that its power grid operates in harmony with current and future land use.

From its generating stations, which are often located in remote regions, to its urban distribution system, Hydro-Québec designs its facilities in consideration of the distinctive characteristics and constraints of the land where they are built.

In operating our many facilities (reservoirs, dams, control structures, etc.), we take care to preserve the quality of the water bodies so the communities along their shores can also use them.

2018 highlights
  • We planted some 100 trees and shrubs on the lot of the Centre de services Saint-Laurent in the Saint-Laurent borough. The objective was to contribute to the efforts of the city of Montréal and the Société de verdissement du Montréal Métropolitain (SOVERDI) to increase the area of urban forest and counter the effect of heat islands. Certain tree species were planted to replace the ash trees cut down in 2017 due to the emerald ash borer infestation. (Montréal)
  • We renewed both the agreement on navigability with the Corporation de développement de la rivière Saint-Maurice, as well as the 440 m3/s instream flow testing at La Tuque generating station on weekends, from July 1 to September 15. (Mauricie)
  • We managed 737 commercial and 1,459 residential leases that promote the multipurpose use of Hydro-Québec’s properties: public parks, recreational use of rights-of-way, boat ramps, cottage leases, etc. These leases help prevent usage conflicts and ensure the profitability and long-term operability of the properties.

Heritage contribution

We endeavor to preserve and develop the value of Québec’s built, archaeological and technological heritage. We achieve this by not only ensuring that our facilities blend into the surrounding landscape, but also by offering guided tours of Hydro-Québec facilities in six of Québec’s regions.

2018 highlights
  • We developed the Tour Rallies app, which highlights the built, technological and intangible heritage of the Manic-5 and Beauharnois generating stations. Two rallies are available, based on the visitor group, i.e., family with children or all adults. (Côte-Nord and Montérégie)
  • We published four heritage booklets mainly designed for use during the guided tours. The booklets showcase the built and technological heritage of the Jean-Lesage building, as well as Carillon, Rivière-des-Prairies and Première-Chute generating stations.

Health and safety

Pruning trees in a residential area of Baie-Comeau, in the Côte-Nord region.

Everyone wants quality service at competitive rates. Our employees and suppliers also want to work in a safe, healthy work environment.

As we conduct our operations, the health and safety of our employees, customers and anyone likely to be near our facilities are of vital importance to us. Since electricity use can be hazardous, we inform the public of the precautions that should always be taken. We also study the potential effects of our operations on human health that we can improve our understanding and take all necessary measures to mitigate risks and inconveniences.

Public and consumer health and safety

We monitor our facilities and manage our operations with a view to reducing risks and nuisances.

We maintain secure access to our facilities and inform the public about the hazards of electricity use and the risk of drowing near hydropower facilities.

2018 highlights
  • Number of participants in health awareness and promotion activities: 1,648 (3,191 in 2017).
  • Joint committees representing many of the company’s unions (474 individuals) were consulted concerning more than 420 health and safety cases. Thanks to their participation, most of the cases were resolved.

Employee abd contractor health and safety

Hydro-Québec has always maintained high occupational health and safety standards. However, analyses conducted in the wake of unfortunate incidents have revealed that there is room for improvement in certain areas. Therefore, we have initiated a review of our processes which, once completed, will enable us to lay the foundations for a major culture shift in this regard.

2018 highlights
  • We collaborated in the installation of interpretation panels on safety near the boat ramp downstream of Péribonka generating station, which is mainly used by vacationers and anglers. (Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean)
  • We implemented prevention and communication measures designed to ensure the citizens’ safety during hunting season on company-operated lands. (Montérégie)

Watch the video of our awareness campaign on the identification of dangerous wires.

Our customers come first

Hydro-Québec distributes electricity to about 4.3 million customers

Improving the customer experience

Since 2015, we have been implementing a number of ways to improve the quality of our residential and business customer service, including:

  • A mobile app and online services
  • Expanded call center hours
  • Chat sessions with advisors
  • Specialized programs for business customers

Call wait times and the number of complaints and claims are key indicators. The customer service representatives in our 14 call centers throughout Québec handle more than three million calls per year.

Average call wait times at customer relations centers from 2015 to 2018
  2015 2016 2017 2018
Average call wait times (seconds) 231 99 84 87

Our customer relations centers receive an average of 12,000 calls per day. The number of calls concerning moves/changes of address and power outages also increased. Although a number of questions can easily be answered online, longer and more complex issues must be resolved by phone.

Customer complaints and claims (number)
This table illustrates how the number of complaints fell from 9,727 in 2015 to 6,771 in 2018. During the same period, the number of claims fell from 3,960 to 4,031. Claims appeals to the Régie de l’énergie likewise increased, going from 85 in 2017 to 99 in 2018.

Claims increased by 22% over 2017– 41% of calls were related to property damage caused by Hydro-Québec employees and contractors and 41% were related to damage due to power outages and fluctuations in voltage (due to bad weather, work on the system, etc.).

To learn more about Your Customer Space, watch this short video (in French).

2018 highlights
  • The first Customer Experience Week, which was held from October 1 to 5, enabled our employees to learn about the initiatives the company has put in place to better serve its customers and keep abreast of the current cultural shift.
  • We added an option to our telephone line to provide master electricians with information on the progress of engineering work associated with connection projects.

Reliable electricity service

Delivering reliable electricity service to Quebecers and our neighbors requires:

  • Meticulous supply management
  • The proper functioning of substations, transmission and distribution lines

Therefore, we carry out regular maintenance and repair work on our structures and facilities, along with work to extend or modify the transmission system. We also make sure that vegetation is kept at a height and density compatible with system operation.

Service reliability is measured by the system average interruption duration index (Saidi), which reflects the average service interruption time per customer. Some scheduled interruptions are required for system maintenance, while unscheduled outages are caused by bad weather, invasive vegetation or equipment failure.

System Average Interruption Duration Index (minutes of interruption per customer)
The system average interruption duration index (SAIDI) measures the average annual service interruption time per customer. This chart shows that the average number of minutes of interruption per customer went from 213 in 2015 to 437 in 2018.

A responsible supplier

A Trois-Rivières storage area housing materials for the 735-kV Chamouchouane–Bout-de-l’Île line project.

A number of our large-power customers have adopted policies or practices for meeting the highest standards in responsible procurement. In that vein, they want to make sure their suppliers, including Hydro-Québec, abide by responsible business practices and provide them with products and services that comply with their specifications.

For more information, follow this link: