Quebec Ink

Quebec Ink: As Hydro-Québec expands into cleantech, entrepreneurs cry foul

The Energy Technology Laboratory in Shawinigan, Que. Hydro-Québec

MONTREAL — Quebec is green.

In these parts, it is less a statement than an article of faith, one repeated by politicians, luminaries and Quebecers themselves, who, if polls are to be believed, consistently outflank their rest-of-Canada brethren when it comes to ecological bona fides. Even former U.S. vice-president Al Gore bought in, calling Quebec the “environmental conscience of Canada” during one of his righteous rips through the province.

At the headwaters of all this alleged greenery is Hydro-Québec. The 36.9 renewable, emissions-free gigawatts springing from the public utility’s 668 dams at once keep Quebec’s lights on and fuel that abiding article of faith. As such, Hydro-Québec is more than a mere public utility. It is a symbol of environmental might.

But what happens when that symbol turns against you?

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