Hydro-Quebec readies for power capacity additions out to 2020

Hydro-Québec on June 8 presented its “Strategic Plan 2016-2020: Setting new sights with our clean energy,” that includes goals like use of the Becancour power plant and development of new hydro generation, in part to serve the northeast U.S. power markets.

“Thanks to our clean and renewable electricity and our know-how, we can set ambitious sights for the future, both for our customers and for Québec as a whole,” said Éric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec, in a June 8 statement. “We want to increase customer satisfaction and remain a powerful force for economic development by investing [C]$18.1 billion in Québec by 2020. The Strategic Plan also reiterates our role as a key player in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Our vision: working better, setting new sights, building tomorrow.

Québec’s generating capacity needs will increase over the next 15 years, driven mainly by growth in residential demand. That’s why the provincial utility wants to reduce costly imports by having the TransCanada Énergie generating station in Bécancour converted to liquefied natural gas and to use it as a peaking plant.

Whether to meet the needs of the Québec market or to seize export opportunities, the utllity intends to:

  • bring into service the last two Romaine hydro generating stations (640 MW by 2020) and the related transmission facilities;
  • to undertake new projects to increase the capacity of some of its hydroelectric generating facilities (about 500 MW by 2025); and
  • determine, by 2020, what its next major hydropower project will be after the Romaine complex.

The province of Quebec as a Plan Nord project to develop northern areas of the province. Hydro-Quebec plans to invest C$4.3 billion in generation and transmission facilities in the Plan Nord area between 2016 and 2020. That includes:

  • add 1,140 MW to hydroelectric generating capacity in the area and build the related transmission facilities;
  • commissioning of Romaine-3 (395 MW) in 2017 and Romaine-4 (245 MW) in 2020;
  • uprating of some of existing facilities (about 500 MW by 2025); and
  • build new generating facilities if warranted by needs in the industrial and mining sectors.

The plan noted: “Between now and 2020, we’ll commission the last two generating stations in the Romaine complex and determine what our next major hydropower project will be. Construction of a large hydroelectric project can take about a decade. That’s why we have to starting planning for the future now, rather than wait for 2020 when the Romaine complex will be completed. Over the 2016–2020 Plan period, we’ll carry out preliminary studies to determine the feasibility of various large-scale hydropower projects in the Plan Nord area. By 2020, we’ll thus be in a position to choose a hydroelectric project for the next decade based on future needs, and we’ll also consider developing other clean energy sources in the Plan Nord area. In this way, we’ll be ready to proceed to the draft-design phase, which includes conducting environmental studies and negotiating agreements with the communities affected.”

Hydro-Québec had announced in May 2015 that it concluded memorandums of understanding with TransCanada (TCE) and Gaz Métro to use Bécancour generating station to meet demand during winter peaks. This use will allow it to capitalize on this asset located close to load centers, for which baseload deliveries have been suspended since 2008. The capacity of Bécancour will be 570 MW. Hydro-Québec will need these megawatts starting in winter 2018-2019. Hydro-Québec said it also reached an agreement with Gaz Métro to supply the generating station with natural gas, without having to use TCE’s transmission capacity. Gaz Métro plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tank and an evaporator unit near the TCE generating station. Gaz Métro will be in charge of building, operating and maintaining the facilities. A supply in LNG will reduce exposure to the price volatility of natural gas markets during the winter.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.