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Hydro-Quebec rates ‘never’ to increase above 3 per cent, premier promises – Montreal

The Quebec government says it will table additional legislation to make sure Hydro-Quebec fees remain low.

Premier François Legault was questioned on the issue at the National Assembly Wednesday, following a Radio-Canada report that suggested Hydro-Quebec CEO Michael Sabia felt increasing fees was necessary.

In its report, Radio-Canada says it obtained a recording of an internal Hydro-Quebec meeting, in which Sabia responds ‘yes’ when asked whether Hydro-Quebec fees need to be increased to improve energy consumption in Quebec.

Concerned about the report, Québec Solidaire Co-Spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois questioned the premier about it at the legislature Wednesday, asking whether Legault was aware of intentions to increase fees and calling on him to make a commitment to ensure Quebecers don’t shoulder the financial burden of major energy projects like the Northvolt battery plant.

“We need to do our energetic transition. It’s essential if we want to reach our climate goals,” Nadeau-Dubois told reporters. “But the bill of that transition cannot be sent to working class families that are right now suffering.”

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In response, Legault said his government would “never” increase residential Hydro-Québec fees more than three per cent or indexed to inflation — whichever is lowest.

“I want to assure all Quebecers that what we’re in the process of doing with Northvolt and the battery supply chain will pay off and will not have an impact on residential fees,” Legault said.

“Contrary to what was done in the past by the Liberal Party and the Parti-Québécois — those two governments, on multiple occasions, raised Hydro-Québec rates higher than inflation. The CAQ government will never do that.”

The Legault government put in place a law on Hydr0 fees earlier this year, known as Bill 2. It caps the rate at a maximum of three per cent, but only until 2025, after which point the province’s energy board would determine the price.

“De facto by 2025, if nothing gets done, we rebase,” Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon explained. “What M. Legault said this morning is that he wants to keep a cap on residential tariffs which would mean we need to amend the law.”

Fitzgibbon said he would amend it to cap the rate indefinitely.

“People thought we were crazy, but [Bill 2] damn good law,” Fitzgibbon said. “We just want to confirm that we care about consumers, we care about populations.”

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But the official opposition says this solution would only help in the short-term, and it’s criticizing the Legault government for taking power away from the energy board.

“I think that was a huge mistake made by the CAQ, getting rid of  the Regie’s power to really be an independent body to determine tariffs,” Quebec Liberal Party Energy Critic Gregory Kelley said in an interview. “Now it’s just a political football.”


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