Hydro-Quebec is the only Canadian utility still trying to get contracts for the $35-billion Three Gorges dam project in China.
B.C. Hydro and Ontario Hydro have bowed out of the controversial project, which will create an inland sea more than 600 km long and generate 17,000 megawatts of power. Environmentalists and even members of China’s Communist government oppose the project.
In Canada, Prime Minister Jean Chretien supports the project, even though his party opposed it while in opposition. B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt, once a strong proponent, announced the provincial utility will stay out of Three Gorges in November after public protest. Ontario Hydro also has backed out of the project, citing concern about the fact that it will displace at least 1.3 million people.
That leaves Hydro-Quebec, part of a consortium that carried out a favourable review of the project in the late ‘80s.
“It is the only public utility in Canada still on record as supporting the project,” said environmentalist Jean Thibodeau in a Montreal Gazette article. “There isn’t the same level of awareness or opportunity for public scrutiny that there is in Ontario or B.C.”