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Quebec budget to boost use of electric vehicles, LNG

Quebec has earmarked C$260 million over the next five years to boost the use of electric vehicles and develop low-emitting energy sources.

The province also set aside C$36.5 million for projects to bring natural gas and LNG to communities beyond the reach of the existing pipeline grid in its fiscal 2018-2019 budget, which was introduced March 27. The fiscal plan allocates funds to boost forestry biomass projects, develop its hydrogen-fuel sector and encourage development of other biofuels.

Quebec is one of the largest North American producers of hydroelectric power through government owned Hydro-Québec. Its abundance of low-cost hydro resources has encouraged the province to lure high energy-consumption businesses such as data centers and to explore electric vehicle use. Énergir, the natural gas utility owner that was formerly Gaz Metro LP, been working on LNG projects to reduce reliance on more polluting fuels in remote areas of the province.

The budget "affirms that natural gas will play an increasingly important role in supporting the economic development and competitiveness of Québec companies," Énergir said in a March 27 statement. "As such, the [C]$36.5-million envelope will help support the realization of new projects that aim to serve natural gas in various regions, particularly in Montérégie, Estrie and Chaudière-Appalaches."

Like other Canadian provinces, Quebec is subject to federal guidelines that require steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The province already takes part in a cap-and-trade scheme with California and neighboring Ontario. The current budget anticipates no deficit and sets aside cash to reduce the province's debt. Minister of Finance Carlos Leitao said the government plans to use its economic advantage for future development.

"Quebec is positioning itself as a leader in clean energy production and sustainable development," Leitao said in a government statement. "We must take advantage of the favorable economic and fiscal situation to pick up the pace by relying on the strength and advantages of our hydroelectricity while exploring and developing promising niches, such as the hydrogen and biofuel sectors."