Should we be worried about Hydro’s future under Pierre Fitzgibbon’s rule?
The prolific businessman became No. 2 in the CAQ government while François Legault gave him three ministerial posts: Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy; Minister for Regional Economic Development; Minister in charge of the metropolitan area and the Montreal region.
Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister for Energy
Since Pierre Fitzgibbon has headed Hydro-Québec, three key figures at Crown’s largest corporation in the Quebec government have decided to step down: Sophie Brochu (President and CEO), Éric Filion (Executive Vice-President) and Jacinthe Côté (Chair of the Board). . of directors).
Obviously, the Brochus, Filions and Côtés would never dare say publicly that their departure was due to Superminister Fitzgibbon’s control over Hydro-Québec’s future.
Her departure is “officially” just an unfortunate coincidence, period!
In any case, it is extremely unfortunate that these key figures are stepping down at a time when the Legault administration is in the process of redefining Hydro-Québec’s priorities for years and even decades to come.
The CAQ government will thus deprive itself of the solid expertise of Brochu, Filion and Côté.
It would have been highly relevant for these three resignations to actively participate in the public consultation on Quebec’s energy future that the Legault government will conduct through a parliamentary commission this spring.
During a talk in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois asked the Prime Minister why “he is opposed to Sophie Brochu coming to the parliamentary committee? “.
François Legault replied: “We have never refused, Madam President, but what I would like to counter is that Sophie Brochu was very clear; it didn’t, it had no dispute of principle with the government. »
Ah great ! Let’s take it for granted!
Regarding Hydro’s future, the Legault government’s two main goals are to increase Hydro-Québec’s capacity by 50% and win the race to become carbon neutral in North America.
Not surprisingly, the public consultation is being led by François Legault’s right arm on the matter, the energetic Pierre Fitzgibbon.
The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Marc Tanguay, believes that Minister Fitzgibbon is going too far in leading the state-owned company.
“He cannot make decisions alone in his office in front of closed doors. We must be involved in these decisions. When I hear Mr. Fitzgibbon say, “We’ve got about 22,000 or 24,000 megawatts [MW] We take on half of the projects and I decide.” We don’t know the criteria. »
In a brief filed this week, Hydro-Quebec said the list of supply requests for potential large-scale projects at the company would total 23,000 MW if they were all completed. This requirement alone corresponds to 13 times the electricity production of the Romaine complex.
Faced with this demand from companies, Pierre Fitzgibbon indicated that he could approve “between 8,000 and 10,000 MW of industrial projects aimed at decarbonization and wealth creation”.
The real boss
As we can see, Pierre Fitzgibbon considers himself the supreme leader of Hydro-Québec.
Because of its close ties to the business community, many people fear that Hydro-Québec will eventually prioritize the needs of industry at the expense of the needs of electricity consumers.
The big questions about the future of hydropower and the public investments needed in the coming decades to create the energy transition and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 are:
- Does Quebec’s energy future depend on building new dams to meet increased electricity demand, as François Legault suggested during the election campaign?
- Should we accelerate the development of wind energy together with the private sector?
- Do you want to implement dynamic pricing for companies?
- Are the current consumer prices introduced by the Legault government based on inflation relevant?
- Given Quebec’s rising demand, should electricity exports be kept to a minimum?
- What are the best measures to reduce private consumption without consumers feeling disadvantaged?
However, the current concern of all stakeholders and observers closely following Hydro-Québec revolves around the upcoming appointment of the person who will succeed CEO Sophie Brochu. And above all: will it be a political appointment or not?