Quebec’s Energy Policy


The pioneering spirit of the former conquerors that found a new home in the eastern portion of North America, eventually settled on the Canadian Shield, continues to shape Quebec’s energy policy to this day; hydropower forms the basis of Quebec’s electricity supply.

The pioneering spirit of the former explorers of the new world, a vast space of seemingly unlimited energy and resource wealth, continues to shape Quebec’s energy policy to this day. The proximity to untouched nature, a wilderness that reaches far into the Arctic, leads to a preference for renewable energies. The advantages of renewable energy sources are obvious: Quebec has an enormous potential of hydroelectric power for electricity production. A large part of the electricity is carried over long distances to the industrial and commercial heart of the nation, the Saint Lawrence River and Montreal, the cosmopolitan centre of Canada’s most influential French-speaking province. So it is not surprising that Quebec is trying to act decisively on energy policy issues with regards to renewable energy.


Canada’s energy policy is organized in a decentralized way in part because of its geography and to some extend its economic policy orientation, with a more liberal-leaning Western Canada, and Quebec’s more social stance.

Quebec’s hydropower plants, once owned by the powerful Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company, were nationalized which partly reflects a different outlook on energy policy with respect to other provinces in Canada. From the 1960s onwards, additional capacity was built because Quebec’s electricity requirements increased significantly which was also related to strong population growth in this region during that time.

Energy policy can be fairly inaccurate in its predictions, and it is both an art and a science to balance the demand for electricity with the supply over decades. In relation to the measures Quebec took to supply itself with hydroelectric power, the construction of additional hydroelectric capacity led to an oversupply of electricity.  The now state-owned Hydro-Québec Group began exporting its excess electricity capacity to the United States in 1997.

The pioneering spirit and inherent optimism of tackling problems, the vastness and abundance of nature in the Canadian East, Quebec’s penchant for hydroelectric power as a means of energy policy transformation, lead Quebec to meet the climate goals of the Paris Accord of 2015.

Quebec is largely in agreement with the English-speaking provinces in the area of climate policy. It is in Quebec’s own interest to introduce these climate policy measures due to a general oversupply of hydropower, which is the most suited source of renewable energy in this region.

Quebec’s energy policy shows strong similarities to the energy policies of some US states, particularly California.

What is particularly fascinating is that Quebec’s energy policy has similarities to the energy policies of US states such as California, which like Quebec rely heavily on hydropower, and have set themselves the goal of significantly increasing the share of renewable energies.

Many thanks for the shared interest in the energy world!


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