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Quebec launches plan to boost renewables above 60% of energy mix

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Quebec launches plan to boost renewables above 60% of energy mix

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and a group of keyministers unveiled plans to boost use of energy from renewable sources to about61% by 2030 under a plan that would see dramatic reductions in consumption ofpetroleum products and the elimination of the use of thermal coal.

The province already gets about 47% of its energy fromrenewable sources, with most of that coming from electricity produced bygovernment-owned electric utility Hydro-Québec.Under the 2030 Energy Policy, Quebec plans to, among other things, increasetotal renewable energy generation by 25%, according to a translation of anApril 7 document posted to its website in French.

Couillard said the move to less carbon-intensive energy willstrengthen the provincial economy and keep energy costs down. Quebec said itwill first make changes to its laws to support the program and then announcethree action plans in the coming months.

"Strategically, we must intervene and make choices thatwill improve the quality of life of Quebecers while reducing fossil fuelconsumption," Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Pierre Arcand saidin the translated statement. "With this energy policy, Quebec strengthensits leadership and proves that it is possible to engage a real decarbonizationof the economy through innovation."

"I am very pleased that the energy policy confirms theessential role of Hydro-Québec as an engine of economic development of Quebec,"Hydro-Québec President Eric Martel said in a separate translated statement.Indeed, one section of the plan puts Hydro-Québec at the "heart ofeconomic development" in Quebec, and notes that since 2011, the utilityhas been helping reduce the use of fossil fuels in transport through its ElectricCircuit charging network for vehicles, which now has more than 615 chargingstations across the province.

For Hydro-Québec, Martel said, the provincial policyheightens the utility's role internationally through the potential forincreased power exports and possibly through acquisitions or equity investmentsoutside of the province. Also, the utility will work toward identifying by 2020its next hydroelectric generation facility to be developed.

Under the plan Quebec expects to improve the efficiency withwhich energy is consumed by 15%, reduce petroleum products consumption by 40%and boost bioenergy production by 50%. Some of the reductions will come byparing the use of fossil fuels in remote northern regions of the province, thedocument said. Wind power and use of LNG will help achieve some of thedecrease. The policy drew applause from natural gas and LNG distributorGaz Métro LP.

"The policy echoes the majority of the proposals we putforward in consultations the government conducted in preparation forformulating the policy," Gaz Métro CEO Sophie Brochu said in a separatestatement. "We note with enthusiasm that, for example, the government hasreiterated its wish to help provide the various regions of Québec with accessto natural gas (gaseous or liquefied). We are also happy to learn that GazMétro will have some leeway with regard to acquiring the natural gas transportcapacities needed to facilitate and encourage matters for major industrialcompanies that wish to set up in Quebec or convert their processes to naturalgas."

The plan was also welcomed by the Canadian Wind EnergyAssociation, or CanWEA, which wrapped up its Spring Forum meeting in QuebecApril 6. Part of the plan will see wind energy integrated into exports byHydro-Québec, a major supplier of power to neighboring Ontario and the U.S.Northeast. The plan also calls for Hydro-Québec to double its revenues over thenext 15 years.

"This policy will send a clear signal that Quebec wantsto play a leading role across the continent," CanWEA Vice PresidentJean-François Nolet said in a statement on the group's website. "Itsimplementation will be the opportunity to move from words to action and attractinvestment, including by ensuring that the northeastern U.S. market has accessto electricity produced by Quebec wind farms."