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 NEW YORK, April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Hydro-Quebec, the Montreal-based utility that generates almost all of the electricity produced in Quebec, today is celebrating its 50th birthday. Created by legislation of the Quebec Parliament on April 14, 1944, Hydro-Quebec began with the acquisition of Montreal Light, Heat and Power and Beauharnois Light, Heat & Power.
 From a regional electricity supplier with four hydropower plants totalling less than 700 MW, Hydro-Quebec has grown into a world-class utility operating 85 power plants with a combined capacity of almost 30,000 MW. Today, Hydro-Quebec serves 3 million customers in Quebec, trades electricity with neighboring power systems in Canada and the United States and is at the forefront of research into electrotechnologies and other energy-related fields. It produces more then 96 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, mostly hydropower and is an active member of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).
 Hydro-Quebec's story is one of five decades of challenges faced up to, and met. For the first four decades of its existence, the company had to meet a demand for electricity that doubled every 10 years. A new challenge came in the early sixties, when Hydro-Quebec undertook the integration of private distribution and generation companies into its network, extending its reach to the whole province.
 Then came the technological challenge. With the rapid expansion of the sixties, Hydro-Quebec had to develop innovative solutions to ensure the reliability of its network in spite of the increasing remoteness of sources of hydropower. The company fast became a world leader in such fields as high-voltage transmission, the design and management of major power systems, construction in remote regions and the management of large construction sites. Since then, Hydro-Quebec has expanded its technological expertise into other energy-related fields. With 1.8 percent of its budgeted earmarked for scientific research. Hydro- Quebec now ranks sixth among all Canadian companies for R&D.
 The seventies were a time of socio-political challenge. Two worldwide energy crises signaled a change in values. Meanwhile, in 1975, Hydro-Quebec co-signed with the Cree, the Inuit and Naskapi tribes, the Canadian and Quebec Governments, the historical James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA). The landmark agreement included monetary compensation, health, education and social services, provisions for self-government, and guarantees for the protection of traditional ways of life for the Native populations in the territory, as well as environmental mitigation measures. Since 1975, Hydro-Quebec has signed 10 amendments to the original JBNQA and eight totally new agreements with Native Peoples. Hydro development in northern Quebec contributed to reducing the province's dependence on fossil fuels and helped curtail greenhouse-gas emissions.
 The eighties were the decade of environmental challenges. Although it had conducted environmental impact studies long before it was required to do so by law, Hydro-Quebec began explicitly integrating potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures into its project design. To ensure that the protection and enhancement of the environment remained top priority, Hydro-Quebec created an Environmental Affairs branch headed by a senior vice president.
 The nineties promise to be the decade of energy efficiency and total-quality performance. With a goal of 9.3 terawatt-hours in energy savings by the year 2000, Hydro-Quebec estimates that energy conservation will account for 46 percent of forecast additional demand by the end of the century. A new program involving the direct installation of high-tech thermostats in 2 million electrically heated homes in the next four years has been termed the most aggressive in North America by the Alliance to Save Energy.
 In parallel with its energy conservation effort, Hydro-Quebec has undertaken a total-quality program with the goal of becoming the foremost Canadian utility for the quality of its service by the year 2000. In 1993, customer satisfaction in Quebec rose to 93 percent.
 "In its five-decade history, Hydro-Quebec has always met new challenges with enthusiasm, creativity, and a profound sense of its social responsibility," said Jacques Guevremont, the company's representative to the United States. "Of the many achievements of Hydro-Quebec, the one we are proudest of is our commitment to hydropower. This energy choice allowed us to reduce CO2 emissions in the province of Quebec by 17.4 percent over the past 20 years. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Quebec now emits half as much CO2 per capita as the United States. These CO2 emissions, a major cause of the greenhouse effect, are largely the result of energy-related activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels."
 "We believe the next challenge for Hydro-Quebec and other utilities in the Northeast will be to ensure a better management of energy resources, regionally," said Guevremont. "Enriched by the experience of the past 50 years, Hydro-Quebec is ready to meet the challenges of the next half-century," he concluded.
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 /CONTACT: Katherine Cavanaugh or Dusya Broytman of Dorf & Stanton, 800-223-2121/

CO: Hydro-Quebec ST: Quebec IN: UTI SU:

LD-CK -- NY140 -- 7672 04/14/94 20:53 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 14, 1994

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