Press-Republican

Black

January 25, 2013

Cold snap and energy consumption

Whenever we have a cold snap like the one that invaded our part of the world this week, I think of my fellow Canadians in Alberta, who supply the natural gas that fuels our furnace, whose blue flames heat the water that flows through pipes and radiators and heats our house.

I think of Gaz Metro, the company that distributes that Alberta gas throughout Quebec (and part of Vermont) and to which we will pay a significant chunk of our household income this winter.

I try not to think of who actually owns Gaz Metro because it gets very confusing, but it seems it’s mostly owned by my Quebec-administered pension plan. A minority owner is continental pipeline giant Enbridge.

I also think of the political situation in Quebec, where there seems to be a very great ambivalence about the province being potentially self-sufficient in natural gas and oil.

In fact, there’s a lot to think about when one looks at the energy situation of Quebec.

For starters, there is the recent revelation that the provincially owned electrical utility Hydro-Quebec (which used to be a major shareholder of Gas Metro) has what analysts say is a staggering surplus of power. Or rather, it is committed to pay for electricity generated by privately operated wind, bio-mass, natural-gas and water-power projects.

In one instance, according to a published report, Hydro-Quebec will pay a major natural-gas utility some $150 million this year to not operate its power plant between Quebec City and Montreal, and that will most likely be the case for another three years. This has been going on since 2008.

In another case cited in the same report, Hydro-Quebec is on the hook for a hefty loss in its resale of wind power generated by several private operators. One example shows HQ paying nearly 12 cents per kw/hour for juice that it sells for 7 cents.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Black
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg The friendly Commonwealth Games

    The 20th Commonwealth Games are now underway in Glasgow, Scotland, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec's proliferation of festivals

    Woodstock en Beauce celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec City's English paper a survivor

    In a city stocked with beautiful, interesting and historic buildings, the five-story gem located at perhaps the busiest corner in Old Quebec doesn't attract much attention, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadian hockey Kings

    As of this writing, the Los Angeles Kings have either already quaffed from their second Stanley Cup or are on the verge of closing out the New York Rangers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Remembering the forgotten Empress

    The Titanic gets the most attention, what with the epic drama of the 1912 sinking of an incomparable luxury liner, stocked with celebrities, on its maiden voyage.

    May 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadians among TV conspirators

    Call me weird, paranoid, a child of Watergate and Contragate or just a connoisseur of tense political drama, but my current three favorite TV programs are about conspiracies in America, each in a different era of U.S. history, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Hurons gamble on Quebec

    When we were kids, our parents took us to visit Sainte Marie among the Hurons, the restoration of the settlement French missionaries built in 1639 in what is now central Ontario, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Trench warfare in Quebec elections

    I've seen many a Quebec election in my day (I'll skip the "by cracky"), writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo