Home WORLD AMERICA Exporting electricity from Hydro-Québec: is the New York project at risk?

Exporting electricity from Hydro-Québec: is the New York project at risk?


In the Queens borough, facing Manhattan on the other side of the East River, a power station stands out with its four gigantic red and white chimneys. The so-called Big Allis, which runs on natural gas and fuel oil, supplies more than 20% of the electricity to the largest city in the United States.

The plant and other smaller ones nearby spit out many toxic gases at peak times to fuel the skyscrapers, so much so that New Yorkers call this area theAsthma Alleyor the asthma corridor.

Community organizer Louie P. Sosa met TurnedNews.com in the epicenter of this corridor, at the crossroads of many social housing units. It was here that he grew up with his mother and sister who suffered from asthma.

It receives like a breath of fresh air the commissioning by 2026 of the CHPE. The 1,250 megawatts of Quebec hydroelectricity will be able to meet up to 20% of New York’s electricity needs.

Sosa, and a lot of hope.”,”text”:”This project gives a boost to bring green energy to New York, says Mr. Sosa, and a lot of hope.”}}”>This project provides a boost to bring green energy to New York, argues Mr. Sosa, and a lot of hope. The hope that the polluting power stations will close.

A piece of the puzzle

The 603-kilometre, $6.8 billion underground line, partly buried under Lake Champlain, will run from Hydro-Québec’s Hertel substation in La Prairie, Montérégie, and connect to the distribution network in Queens. Transmission Developers Inc., owned primarily by Blackstone, is the state-owned company’s US partner in this venture.

The project is colossal, but necessary, according to Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters.% clean energy by2030″,”text”:”We have a climate law that requires us to move to 70% clean energy by 2030″}}”>We have a climate law that requires us to move to 70% clean energy by 2030, she explains. Currently, 85% of electricity is produced from fossil fuels.

Although she cannot say with certainty that the polluting power stations will cease their activities, she says she is convinced that they will be used less and less with the clean energy to be received.

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His words resonate with Costa Constantinides, a former city councilor recognized for his involvement in the environmental cause. The one who is now leader of the support organization for underprivileged children Variety Boys & Girls of Queens sees above all the CHPE as a piece of the puzzle among other projects to remove polluting power plants from the landscape and transformAsthma Alley into a renewable energy corridor”,”text”:”Asthma Alley into a renewable energy corridor”}}”>I’Asthma Alley in renewable energy corridor.

From the Queens borough in New York, it is possible to see the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

From the Queens borough in New York where there are many thermal power plants, it is possible to see the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Mathieu Dion

Opponents who are not very talkative

Major interest groups opposed to the Hydro-Quebec line either ignored or declined our interview requests.

The Independent Power Producers of New York and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York have already denounced that the contract provides only for an obligation to deliver energy in summer, and not during the winter period. Among environmentalists, Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club believe that the reservoirs of dams are proving to be sources of greenhouse gas emissions due to the decomposition of flora in the flooded territories.

The owner of the Big Allis plant, Rise Light and Power, had promised to close its facilities if its proposed line to bring wind and solar energy produced in the upstate was approved.

However, it was rejected by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, much to the chagrin of the president of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2. The union represents workers in the electrical industry in New York State. James Shillito points out that there are many ways to produce the equivalent of the Hydro-Quebec project in the state with residents here, and preserving taxpayers’ money and expenses here.

We love Canadians, but we don’t want to give them our jobs. »

A quote from James Shillitto, president of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2

Legal challenge still possible

The Hydro-Quebec project in the State of New York is better received than the one which must go through Maine to Massachusetts. But, is the New York project safe from all opposition? Report by Mathieu Dion.

Although a contract has been signed with the State of New York, Hydro-Québec does not claim to be immune to a legal challenge that could jeopardize its high voltage line.

There are companies whose leaders refuse the energy transition because it threatens their business model, deplores CEO Sophie Brochu in an interview. These people will never stop attacking anything renewable in different ways.

In America, it’s part of business to sue and have claims. So immune? I do not think so. »

A quote from Sophie Brochu, CEO of Hydro-Quebec

The fate of the project in New England, the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), is currently in the hands of the Supreme Court of Maine, where the airline must transit to get to Massachusetts. The court must consider the constitutionality of a referendum that led last November to the ban on construction when it was already well underway.

Rushed after a refusal in New Hampshire in 2018, the NECEC has come up against strong opposition from civil society, in particular because it leads to the destruction of forests.

In New York State, the CHPE has been in development since 2008. Hydro-Québec has been involved in the communities, donating significant sums to organizations, including US$625,000 to the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens.

What we experience in New York is certainly informed by what we experienced in Maine, notes Sophie Brochu. In Maine, we deployed differently, we deployed a little later, but we deployed anyway in the communities.

But maybe too late, she agreed. The promised US$258 million in economic benefits did not convince the majority of Mainois.

The state-owned company is betting big with these two export projects, the last ones it plans. Potential revenues of $50 billion – $37.5 billion for the CHPE and 12.5 billion for the NECEC – hang in the balance for the next two decades.

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