You pay them every two months, spend hours on their phone line, and basically rely on them to heat your apartment every winter, but how much do you actually know about the sole provider of energy in the province of Quebec?
For many, the answer is next to nothing. But there's actually quite a bit of history behind Hydro-Québec, and numerous reasons to be proud of our provincial power company. See our rundown of 35 things you never could have known about Hydro-Québec below.
#1 The company was created by the Government of Quebec in 1944
With the formation involving the subsuming of private energy firms like Montreal Light, Heat & Power (MLH&P) and the Shawinigan Water & Power Company
#2 Hydro-Québec was created because of the Great Depression and Ontario
Following the Great Depression, Quebecers were angered by the high costs they needed to pay for electricity and the profit made by private energy companies. So the province looked to Ontario, where a provincially-owned hydro-electric power company had been created many years earlier. It took a while, but by April 14, 1944 the Quebec government passed Bill 17, thus creating the Quebec Hydroelectric Commission, aka Hydro-Québec.
#3 Hydro-Québec is the 4th largest hydropower producer in the entire world.
Behind the BC Power and Power Authority, Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, and China Yangtze Power Co. Ltd.
#4 99% of all the electricity used in Quebec is generated from water
All of which is produced by Hydro-Québec, of course.
#5 Hydro-Québec generates 36,912 megawatts of energy every year
Powering communities well outside of Quebec as well.
#6 63 different hydroelectric power stations make up the Hydro-Québec network
Spread across the province.
#7 Hydro-Québec generates a full 10% of power in New England
The deal began in 1986, under the name “New England Transmission,” which sends energy from the stations along La Grande River to the Boston area. You're welcome, 'Merica.
#8 The Government of Québec is the sole shareholder of Hydro-Québec
Meaning the power company needs to pay dividends to the province each year, which totalled $2,360 million in 2015. Quebec became the sole shareholder in the early 80's when the demand for electricity seriously dropped.
#9 Hydro-Québec sells power at the lowest rate in all of North America
Even though your energy bill might not make it seem like that.
#10 Hydro-Québec rates have been going up by 3.7% every year since 2014
And will continue to until 2018.
#11 The “Q” with a lightning bolt logo was designed in Montreal
Specifically by the design agency Gagnon/Valkus in 1960.
#12 The first hydroelectric power stations ever set to 735 kV were controlled by Hydro-Québec
The three stations located in southern Quebec were too far from the province's urban centers, and so needed a power boost.
#13 Hydro-Québec buys power from Labrador at 1969 prices
Specifically from the Churchill Falls Generating Station, and the deal for cheaper rates will last until 2041. The deal was set up at such a cheap rate because Quebec basically refused to allow power to be transferred from Labrador through the province.
#14 If Hydro-Québec power stations shut down, areas in New England and New Brunswick will experience black outs
This actually happened in 1988 when a substation on Montreal's North Shore shut down due to equipment failure.
#15 Hydro-Québec employs approximately 23,659 people
At least that was the number of employees released by the company in 2009.
#16 It also employs the largest number of engineers in all of Quebec
About 2,060 to be precise. Take that Bombardier.
#17 Hydro-Québec made $2.611 billion in Canadian dollars in 2011
Boasting about $56.9 billion in tangible assets as well.
#18 The average cost a Quebecer will pay for energy is 2.11 cents per kWh
As was the price in 2011, so it is a tad bit higher right now.
#19 96.78% of the energy produced by Hydro-Québec is water-generated
The company's other sources of energy include wind and other renewables (2.91%), nuclear (0.19%), and thermal energy (0.12%).
#20 Hydro-Québec produces 49-238 times less greenhouse gas emissions than the North American industry standard
Most of which comes from imported electricity.
#21 Hydro-Québec controls the largest electricity transmission network on the continent
Which is controlled by TransÉnergie, the company's transmission division and independent system operator.
#22 And that network extends over 33,630 km with 514 substations.
It even connects to other provinces and the U.S. via 17 different ties.
#23 Hydro-Québec/TransÉnergie's voltage network is entirely unique and independent from the rest of Canada and the United States
Despite it using the same frequency, it won't shut down if there's a major blackout, as evidenced in the Northeast Blackout in August 2003. While many areas of Canada and the U.S. were without power, Quebec's network was completely unaffected.
#24 Hydro-Québec is the only electric company in North America to own and fund its own research institute
Known as L'Institut de recherche d'Hydro-Québec (IREQ), the institute was founded in 1967 and is located in Montreal's South Shore. It's work is focused on improving the technologies used by hydro electric power stations. Another was opened in 1988, the Laboratoire des technologies de l'énergie (LTE), located in Shawinigan.
#25 Hydro-Québec has its own environmental protection committee
Created in 1973, the Environmental Management unit is responsible for studying effects on the environment that may be caused by the company's actions, and ways to make their practices more environmentally-friendly.
#26 Three rules govern every Hydro-Québec initiative
- cost effectiveness
- reception from local communities
- environmental acceptability
#27 Hydro-Québec serves about 4,060,195 customers every year
Which are then grouped into three categories: residential and farm, commercial and institutional, and industrial. Each group receives a different energy rate.
#28 An average Hydro-Québec customer will use 16,857 kWh of power per year
That was the average consumption rate for residential customers in 2011.
#29 The average monthly bill for a residential customer is $100
As evidenced in 2008.
#30 More than half of residential customer's use power solely for heating
That's why the Hydro-Québec's system is defined as “winter-peaking,” something you probably already knew.
#31 Hydro-Québec's energy consumption record is a load of 38,910 megawatts.
Set on January 23, 2013. No doubt it was seriously cold.
#32 You can actually pay for your energy bill in 12 monthly installments
Known as the Equalized Payment Plan, this optional payment method uses the previous consumption rate of an address and the average temperature to create a price. Mostly, however, people just pay bimonthly.
#33 Industrial customers pay less than residential or commercial customers
As low as 3.07¢/kWh, largely in part because of lower distribution costs.
#34 Hydro-Québec has had 13 presidents since 1944
And is currently headed by Éric Martel.
#35 Hydro-Québec was attacked by terrorists
After past President George W. Bush visited Canada in 2004, a hydro tower located in the Eastern Townships, close to the Canada-US border, was seriously damaged by bombs detonated at its base. A group known as Résistance internationaliste later issued a statement saying the attack was enacted as a means to "denounce the 'pillaging' of Quebec's resources by the United States."