Quebec election: Legault says new hydro dam needed to meet greenhouse gas targets

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MONTREAL — Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault says reaching the province's greenhouse gas targets isn't achievable without a new hydroelectric dam.

Legault made the comments today in Montreal, a day after the five major party leaders squared off in the first election debate of the campaign.

For the next debate, Legault said he hopes to explain his environmental ideas more fully, adding that the opposition parties have proposed plans that aren't achievable.

The CAQ government is committing to reducing Quebec's greenhouse gas emissions by 37.5 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2030, but the Liberals are proposing a 45 per cent reduction target over that same period. Québec solidaire, meanwhile, is aiming higher at 55 per cent.

Legault says the other parties aren't being serious because they have not revealed where the extra electricity would come from to replace power from fossil fuels, adding that building a new dam takes at least 15 years.

Earlier in the campaign, Legault said he would ask the province's hydro utility to consider new hydroelectric dam projects, but he hasn't said where they would be built.

Legault says the hydro utility needs to produce an extra 100 terawatt hours to meet the expected rise in demand over the coming years, which would equal half of the annual output of Hydro-Québec.

The incumbent premier says Quebec will also need to renegotiate its contract with Newfoundland and Labrador for the Churchill Falls hydroelectric project. The deal gives Hydro-Québec electricity at a price seen as unfavourable to Newfoundland and Labrador. The 1969 deal ends in 2041.

"I don't want to have my hands tied behind my back negotiating with Newfoundland, obliged to sign no matter the price," Legault said Friday, adding he would be open to discussing involvement in other energy projects with the Newfoundland premier.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2022.

The Canadian Press