Water in the gas between Montreal and Hydro-Quebec

The state-owned company warns that it will not be able to meet demand if the new regulations close the door to the dual-energy approach it advocates.

: there would be a lack of power lines, substations”,”text”:”If we went all-electric (heating, large buildings, etc.) that would create enormous demand. It’s not realistic […]: power lines, substations would be missing””>If we went with an all-electric logic (heating, large buildings, etc.), that would create a huge demand. It’s not realistic […] : there would be a lack of power lines, substationswarns the spokesperson at Hydro-Québec, Maxence Huard-Lefebvre.

On February 16, elected officials from the Commission on Water, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Large Parks of the City of Montreal recommended banning as soon as possible any connection of new buildings to the natural gas network.

The Commission also recommends the phasing out fossil fuel heating systems in existing buildings.

According to our sources, the conversion to electricity of all gas heating systems in Montreal in the building would represent an additional power requirement of 4,500 megawatts (MW) for Hydro-Québec.

This is a significant amount of power that would be added to the 23,000 MW of industrial supply requests on the table of the Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon. The latter is also Minister responsible for the Metropolis and the Montreal region.

The demand could even be greater if other municipalities decide to follow Montreal’s example. This is currently the case of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Otterburn Park, Petit-Saguenay, Prévost and Saint-Cuthbert, which are calling on the Quebec government to ban natural gas heating in all new constructions.

Dual energy at the heart of discussions

The Commission de la Ville de Montréal also recommends limiting the use of natural gas to 15% in the case of dual energy and only in Prime time.

However, with dual energy, 30% of the energy supply of residential customers comes from gas and 70% from electricity.

According to Hydro-Quebec, without dual energy, it does not work for us.

« We warn the City of the consequences of a regulation that does not allow the dual-energy offer to be deployed. »

A quote from Maxence Huard-Lefebvre, Hydro-Quebec spokesperson

The issue is the winter peak, reminds Hydro-Quebec, when cold temperatures increase demand and put pressure on the network.

Ongoing discussions

At the City of Montreal, we remain cautious. We will take the time to analyze all the recommendations and we will follow up on them in the coming months.explains the executive committee’s press secretary, Marikym Gaudreault.

« We will take the time to analyze them and this will also be done in collaboration with Hydro-Québec and Énergir. »

A quote from Marikym Gaudreault, Executive Committee Press Officer, City of Montreal.

The regulation is not yet written and the City could very well take a different path from the elected members of its Commission.

The spokesperson for the Montreal executive committee is nevertheless delighted with the interest raised during the consultations.

We now see that the public consultation effort on our roadmap towards zero-emission buildings is a success, writes Ms. Gaudreault. About fifty organizations, businesses and citizens took part in the reflection, which shows how important this file is for the people of Montreal.

A collaboration put to the test

In May 2022, the Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, was delighted with the signing of a collaboration agreement with Hydro-Québec for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building sector.

I am particularly proud to announce this partnership, which will put the immense expertise of our Crown corporation to the benefit of Montrealsaid the mayor.

As much as it is necessary to reduce the use of fossil fuels, it is important to do so at the best possible cost.said CEO Sophie Brochu.

The City of Montreal wants the buildings built on its territory to become carbon neutral by 2040.

For Patrick Bonin, head of the Climate-Energy campaign at Greenpeace Canada, the recommendations of Montreal’s elected officials confirm the City’s leadership and highlight the fact that the Quebec government is sleeping on gas when it should regulate to get fossil fuels out of buildings.

$1 billion for GNR

In May 2022, Hydro-Québec and Énergir obtained approval from the Régie de l’énergie to convert gas heating systems to dual energy in order to reduce greenhouse gases.

The natural gas distribution company, Énergir

Photo: Radio-Canada / Boualem Hadjouti

However, the decision was appealed. Last week, the Régie changed its mind and will not allow Hydro-Québec to raise its rates to finance the agreement with Énergir. The state corporation, however, says the partnership will go ahead, but it will likely have to cut back on its profits.

Hydro estimates that dual energy will reduce GHGs in Quebec by 540,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 and generate savings of around $1.7 billion compared to full electrification.

In its brief, Hydro also asked the Commission adopt a position recognizing renewable natural gas as an energy source that generates no GHG emissions.

Opponents of the dual-energy deal, including environmental and consumer groups, believe there are other ways to deal with winter peaks. They advocate more the use of heat pumps and heat accumulators, which would allow a decarbonization of buildings.

I deplore Hydro-Québec’s lack of ambition. Does the obligation to serve only apply to manufacturers? And this does not apply to decarbonization? Hydro-Québec is finding excuses over and above excuses not to decarbonize. Dual energy is a half measurebelieves Jean-Pierre Finet of the Regrouping of environmental organizations in energy (ROEE), in an interview with Radio-Canada.

Energir has just signed a $1 billion partnership with Denmark’s Nature Energy to accelerate the production of renewable natural gas (RNG) in Quebec. According to the Quebec gas distributor, these facilities would enable an annual reduction of 400,000 tonnes of GHGs by 2030. Currently, Énergir has less than 1% of RNG circulating in its network.

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