The mega-corp. Crees love to hate is back. Just when Crees and all their allies thought the Great Whale project was dead it showed up again in a new mutated, virulent form. The utility and Quebec government sang everyone a soft lullaby and hummed that James Bay Phase II is shelved and gone. Like simple-minded fools we bought the song for a penny, no payments for two years and forgot to look at the compound interest we would owe.
Meanwhile Hydro-Quebec had a free rein to sell power to the northeastern United States. Everyone had believed the lie and stopped fighting… until now. In the meantime HQ tripled their electricity exports to the States.
Now that the initial shock is over what are we going to do about it? We have to look at the roots of the this problem.
One thing has not changed—that this is merely to sell power to Americans and aluminum companies in return for BIG MONEY. Cree land is still seen as profit in the eyes of this southern mega-corp., and not even very good profit at that. It is being sold below the cost of production!
Though Hydra-Q are selling at a loss today and would be selling at a loss tomorrow, they would probably argue that in some future it will be worth it. Even assuming that it eventually pays off, I would have to ask about the costs today.
If I had a company that was losing money on new development all the time, I would have to ask “Where’s the Beef?” Hydro-Quebec spokespeople have said everyone in Quebec is a “shareholder” of the mega-corp. Especially as a shareholder I would wonder at Hydro’s losing money while selling to the Americans, the aluminum companies and big, big business. Then where is the profit coming from?
The sad reality is that there is no profit because the shareholder, you, me, indeed all Quebecers, are paying for the economic stupidity and lack of foresight and hindsight in Hydro-Quebec’s grandiose plans, past, present and possibly the future.
We pay more, each time that Hydro-Quebec asks for a rate increase and it’s given to them by an provincial government greedy for money. And yes the mega-corp.’s high voltage “profits” (remember the $700-million figures?) are used by the government in place of more “taxes.”
We are currently looking at paying even more because Hydro-Quebec has sold the reservoir levels to others placing us, the “domesticated” market in jeopardy.
But the question remains what can we do about it? How can we, as consumers, demand that we deserve as much consideration as the below-cost purchasers?
A few ideas come to mind. Every month we get electrical bills from Hydro-Quebec. In the States we asked people to fold the bills in two, staple them or tape them shut and write an appropriate message on them. In this case I would suggest writing, “No river diversions and we want lower rates.” A few minutes each month to express your wishes and desires to a mega-corp. in a way they can’t ignore! No longer can they anonymously slip them into the computer to grab your hard earned dollars in a rational non-emotional manner. They have to deal with you as a real human being. Not only fun but you get to be a pain in the butt for their accounts receivable division. Who said civil disobedience and anarchy can’t be fun and easy!?!
My other ideas require a little more work on your part and mine. Since we are supposed to be “shareholders” of Hydro-Quebec why don’t you send me a letter giving me your proxy “vote.” When I get enough of them I’ll go in and make them lower the electricity rates or fire the bunch of them without the $100,000-plus going away parties. Alternatively elect me as the new HQ president in your letter. While I promise to lower the rates I will still keep the salary that comes with the job. Hey, perks are perks and I deserve some reward for being on your side for a change… right?
If these things don’t work, at least, we’ll have exposed the lie of “shareholders” for what it was. But the proxy “votes” should allow us, the consumer, the ability to launch a class-action suit against Hydro-Quebec for subsidizing others at our expense. It is time someone has taken to task this supposedly newly regulated mega-corp.
The address is: The Nation, c/o William Nicholls, PO. Box 48026, 5678 Parc Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H2V 4S8.
Fairness is just a stamp away.