In July 2013, the Government of Québec announced an important public consultation process on energy issues, that will take place from September 3 to October 9, 2013. The results of this consultation will inform the province’s new energy policy, which the Government of Québec expects to make public in 2014.

An independent commission, the Commission sur les enjeux énergétiques (the “Commission”), was created for the purpose of this consultation.

In sum, the mandate of the Commission is to:

  • accurately assess the supply, production, development and consumption of different forms of energy in Québec;
  • analyze related challenges, with a particular focus on experiences outside Québec;
  • conduct a broad consultation in all regions of Québec of individuals and organizations that wish to provide input on energy-related matters;
  • produce a consultation report for the Government of Québec with recommendations for defining energy policy directions that conform to the principles of sustainable development and the values and identity of Québec society.

The recommendations of the Commission are intended to support the prosperity and quality of life of Quebecers.  They are also intended to allow for a response to Québec’s energy challenges, such as climate change, energy security, social equity and the mitigation of local environmental impacts.

The Government of Québec has published an official consultation paper to stimulate reflection for the purposes of this process.  This consultation paper presents an overview of Québec’s energy situation and provides a framework for the public debate by identifying the main energy challenges and issues.  This paper is available through the following link: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/documents/document.asp.

According to the consultation paper, Québec’s future energy policy will target six strategic objectives:

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • using electricity surpluses to step up the electrification of transportation and develop the industry;
  • promoting energy efficiency;
  • relying on the production of renewable energies (hydroelectricity and wind), developing emerging renewable energies (underwater generators, passive solar energy, geothermal energy) and fostering development and innovation in these areas;
  • responsibly exploring and developing hydrocarbon reserves in order to enrich all Quebecers; and
  • ensuring the long-term security and diversification of Québec’s energy supplies.

This consultation process is intended to help define the means of achieving these objectives. The consultation paper identifies certain solutions that the Government of Québec believes are promising and that are likely to be prioritized in its future energy strategy.

One of these proposed solutions is to make energy efficiency and clean energy two foundations of Québec’s economic development. The consultation paper notes that Québec is among the world’s biggest energy consumers on a per capita basis.  It also asserts that the province is lagging behind with respect to energy intensity (energy consumption/GDP) in comparison with other jurisdictions.

Accordingly, the consultation paper suggests the need for a more rigorous policy in Québec to encourage greater efficiency in the commercial, institutional and residential sectors. In addition to new construction and renovation standards, it suggests enhancing incentive programs to encourage investment in energy efficiency. This vision is similar to the “Conservation First” policy that is being considered in a similar public consultation process in Ontario, in relation to a new energy policy for that province.

Another preferred avenue that is specifically emphasized in the consultation paper is the electrification of collective and individual transportation. This is one of Québec’s priorities, which would possibly include establishing an industry to produce or assemble electric vehicles and components, supporting research and development devoted to new transportation technologies and investing in the electrification of mass transit where feasible.

In addition, the consultation paper outlines the Government of Québec’s approach regarding exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the province. It states Québec’s intention to establish proper oversight before proceeding with such activities in the province. Québec’s hydrocarbon policy will need to account for environmental protection, respect for communities, the optimization of economic spinoffs for all Quebecers and stringent supervision and oversight. The balance between environmental and social considerations and the promotion of hydrocarbon exploration and production in Québec is a major challenge that is likely to receive considerable attention through this consultation process.

The consultation paper also confirms Québec’s commitment to promote clean energy.  It outlines efforts made in this area, such as the Government of Québec’s plan to procure an additional 800 MW of wind energy capacity, including 450 MW through a tender solicitation process. Please refer to the "Québec Advances in Procurement of Additional Wind Energy" article for more details on the draft regulation relating to this 450 MW procurement.

The Commission will hold hearings in different locations throughout Québec between September 4 and October 9, 2013. Submissions may be made in person before the Commission by reserving a time slot in advance of a hearing.  Briefs may also be submitted in writing, by mail or online until October 11, 2013. 

Comments may also be published on specific topics through an official online blog at: http://consultationenergieenligne.gouv.qc.ca/.

Details regarding the location of the hearings, the process for submitting briefs and general documentation relating to the consultation may be found on the website of the Commission at:  http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/index.asp.