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GEO2010 Chapter 6 Notes.docx

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Geography 2010A/B
Suzanne Greaves

Chapter 6: Quebec Hydro-Quebec  Active role in shaping the province’s industrial economy and its energy export strategy  Hydro-Quebec has been central to this strategy by harnessing the province’s vast water resources and arranging long-term sales to utilities in New England  Economic objective has been to stimulate economic growth through state intervention in the marketplace  Hydro-Quebec has undertaken construction of huge hydroelectric projects, developed high-voltage transmission systems, and offered low electric rates to industrial firms  Its political goal was to increase Quebec’s public and private ownership of its economy within the francophone business community  Hydro-Quebec is Canada’s largest electric utility, ad expertise gained from huge hydroelectric construction projects has allowed its contracts to undertake similar projects around the world  Transmission Technology: high voltage transmission lines that reduced power loss and thus made shipping electricity over long distances viable  While completion of the James Bay Project remains central to Hydro- Quebec’s plans, its next construction project calls for the harnessing of Romaine River, which flows from Canadian Shield to St. Lawrence River  Romaine Complex will enable Hydro-Quebec to secure Quebec’s energy future and to increase its exports to markets outside Quebec  Eastmain Diversion Project entails diverting a portion of the water in the Rupert River watershed into the Eastmain River watershed and then into La Grande Basin Hydro-Quebec’s Industrial Strategy  Vast electrical power generated by the first phase of the James Bay Project provided the provincial government with an opportunity to attract energy-hungry industries into southern Quebec by offering them special, low electricity rates, and to export surplus power to energy-hungry utilities in New England  Takes on the spatial form of the core / periphery model where the hinterland supplies the energy for industrial users in the core  Hydroelectric developments depend on 3 factors: o Abundant precipitation – provides regular source of water for lakes and rivers o Topography – high elevations ensure steady flow for the power plants o Access to market – solved by transmission technology  Main advantages: generation of clean / renewable / low-cost power, long life of facilities, low operating costs, job creation, zero air pollution of GHG  Drawbacks: initial high capital investment, long construction period, extensive and time-consuming environmental studies  With power and capacity to offer low rates, the provincial government lured industrial companies into southern Quebec  Able to provide industrial firms with low-cost energy for three reasons: o Northern Quebec can provide vast quantities of low-cost electrical power o Hydro-Quebec has a long-term contract to buy power from Churchill Falls in Labrador at 1969 prices o Control over its price structure and can set extremely low power rates for its industrial customers  Even so, global competition is a threat Hydro-Quebec’s James Bay Project  Calls for production of hydroelectricity from all the rivers that flow into James Bay from Quebec territory  Announced in 1971, divided into 3 separate river basins – La Grande, Great Whale, and the Nottaway-Broadback-Eastmin-Rupert  Involves about 20 rivers and affects an area 1/5 the size of Quebec  The La Grande project involved diverting water from 3 other rivers (Eastmain, Opinaca, and Caniapiscau) into La
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