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Gaz Métro is banking on LNG, renewables to boost profit

Gaz Métro LP, the Montreal-based utility owner, is poised to see profit grow amid expansions at its LNG business and demand for renewable power in the U.S. Northeast, executives said.

Gaz Métro completed the addition of a second train that will raise the capacity of its Quebec LNG terminal to 9 Bcf annually, CEO Sophie Brochu said Aug. 9 on a conference call for Valener Inc. The company has partnered with Boralex Inc. and Hydro-Québec to bid 1,000 MW of renewable power into a request for proposals from Massachusetts, one of many anticipated developments in the region, Brochu said.

Valener is a publicly held entity that holds a 29% stake in the Gaz Métro partnership. Gaz Métro's largest partner is Noverco, an entity controlled by Enbridge Inc. and a group of Quebec financial institutions. Brochu is CEO of Gaz Métro and manager of Valener. The conference call was held to discuss Valener's fiscal third-quarter earnings.

The Montreal LNG plant expansion will triple the facility's output, improving the economics of supplying some of the remote Quebec regions that are part of Gaz Métro's gas utility network. The company also recently completed an LNG transfer facility at the Port of Montreal.

"The new infrastructure is quite unique and is now in service and equipped to produce over 9 Bcf of LNG annually," Brochu said. The marine facility, which was developed with the Port of Montreal, "is an important milestone for the entire maritime transport sector, as well as our own LNG development," she said.

If the bid to supply power to Massachusetts is successful, it would enable Boralex and Gaz Métro to proceed with their SBx project in eastern Quebec. SBx would be the fourth phase of the Seigneurie de Beaupré wind farms and add 364 MW of installed capacity to the development, Brochu said.

"Massachusetts is expected to announce selected projects at the beginning of 2018," Brochu said. "Gaz Métro is thrilled at the possibility of expanding its partnership with Boralex yet again, and in working with Massachusetts to foster a new relationship and to supply it with clean, stable and sustainable energy well into the future."

Regulatory changes in the Northeast are making the region attractive to renewables developers, Brochu said. "Northeastern states have adopted ambitious renewable energy targets and instituted regulatory requirements that favor wind power, which makes this market very appealing," Brochu said. "Our bid will not only help Massachusetts achieve its goal in fighting climate change, it would also generate significant direct and indirect economic benefits in the region of Quebec."