It’s been rough going for Hydro-Quebec in recent weeks.
The embattled utility was left black and blue after scraps both at home and abroad over its energy policies, including a clash with Christos Sirros, Quebec’s Minister of Natural Resources.
The tough times started on March 23 when Reed Scowen, Quebec’s representative in New York, lashed out at U.S. enrivonmentalists for their “appalling and senseless” charges against Hydro-Quebec and the Great Whale project.
“Their interventions on the subject of Quebec have been made in a form of apocalyptic rhetoric, which is designed for one purpose only—fund-raising,” Scowen was quoted as saying by the Globe and Mail.
Scowen’s attack drew fire from David Freeman, the new president of the New York Power Authority, a big Hydro customer. Freeman said it’s “very dangerous” for Quebec to question the motivations of environmentalists. “I don’t think the dialogue between us is going to be resolved by attacking the people that are my customers.”
Freeman walked out of the session before it was over, scolding Quebec for its “lack of sensitivity” to its environmental opponents. “I didn’t get any comfort out of this meeting this morning.”
The utility also came under fire at the National Assembly during recent hearings into Hydro-Quebec’s latest development plan. PQ opposition critic Guy Chevrette raked Hydro-Quebec over the coals for its money-losing electricity contracts with aluminum multinationals. Chevrette called the contracts “a monumental mistake,” “insane contracts” and “one of the biggest financial fiascos.”
“I think it’s necessary to explain to our citizens that it’s not craziness and that it created jobs,” retorted Hydro chair Richard Drouin. Drouin also crossed swords with Sirros, contradicting the Natural Resource Minister’s claim that Quebec is locked into the aluminum contracts for 25 years. “It’s not like that. There are lots of clauses in these contracts that can be adjusted.”