Hydro-Quebec suffered a third defeat when Rhode Island’s Public Utilities Commission turned down an offer of 250 megawatts of electricity in late January. Maine turned down HQ in 1989; New York said NON in 1992.

Last year, HQ approached Rhode Island with an offer the Quebec utility thought couldn’t be refused. Former Premier Robert Bourassa pointed to the deal with Rhode Island as evidence that New England was very interested in signing new contracts. “The demagogues took over the public platform for a while, but we are replying with our arguments and we are finding many governments are still interested,” he was quoted as saying last May.

But just two days before Bourassa’s “boast,” Rhode Island and Hydro-Quebec had issued a joint statement saying the 250-megawatt deal was off. This prompted Hydro-Quebec to mount an expensive campaign to pressure the Rhode Island state legislature to change its mind. In July, by four votes, the legislature yielded by passing a non-binding resolution “encouraging” a re-evaluation of Hydro-Quebec’s offer and requiring a report back to the legislature in Jan. 1994.

But the deal was slammed at a public hearing into the entire matter last September by Rhode Island’s utilities, environmentalists and concerned citizens. When it came back before lawmakers, they rejected it once and for all. Hydro-Quebec has been out-numbered in one more state. Perhaps the cancellation of New York State’s 800-megawatt contract with Hydro-Quebec before November 30, 1994 will be next.

– Ann Stewart (a legislative agent for the Grand Council of the Crees registered with the U.S. Dept of Justice)