Business

Mother Nature is expensive at Hydro

Environmentalists are not alone in being concerned about climate change. Hydro-Quebec President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Martel is just as good.
In a recent interview with The Canadian Press, he said he was “very concerned about climate change, to be honest”. It’s because Mother Nature is expensive at the crown corporation.

The overtime bill at Hydro-Quebec reached $165 million last year, weather conditions having been more severe than usual. The energy giant faced 4,500 more outages, for a total of 24,478, and 16 major event days compared to eight in 2017. That’s four times more than in the 1980s.

“It’s clear that climate change is impacting our business,” said Eric Martel.

The intervention of Hydro-Quebec’s big boss comes at a time when the climate issue is becoming increasingly important in the public space. From day to day, the pressure is increasing on the Legault government to do more to fight against greenhouse gases.

Mr. Martel suggests that the costs to society related to climate change will only increase. He gives the example of pruning costs for Hydro-Quebec: as trees grow faster, these expenses have risen from $65 million to $73 million since last year, a jump of about 15 percent.

“Since 2000, a tree in Montreal has grown five inches more per year, so vegetation is growing faster,” he said. These changes before were made over millennia, there it was in 18-19 years. That’s why we asked for budget increases from the Regie de l’énergie. ”

Anticipate the risks

The crown corporation is “in action”. In addition to requests to increase her budgets, she commissioned her team of a dozen meteorologists to study various phenomena such as freezing rain, which paralyzes certain regions of Quebec.

“What is the precipitation we will have in the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years? Are we going to have more or less? “Asks Mr. Martel, who says he does not know what impact it will have in the long run on Hydro-Quebec’s equipment.

“Our transformer, for example, will it last so long, will the equipment in our stations become more vulnerable because there is more often ice?”

He also mentions the floods that are causing a lot of trouble for his employees, who must closely monitor the snowmelt and the water level of each river. Hydro-Quebec fills its reservoirs as needed, so that they serve as basins and reduce the flow of water in the rivers.

Without this work from Hydro-Quebec, the spring floods of 2017 would have been much worse, Mr. Martel estimates. Victims in the south of the province would have had “easily one meter more water”. “Imagine when you have one meter more water, there would have been a lot more people who would have been flooded.”

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Alan Carter
Alan Carter
Alan Carter has been a reporter on the news desk since 2015. Before that she wrote about young adolescents and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Koz Post, Alan Carter worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella.