Quebec Energy Minister Arcand discusses province's role in EPA power plan

Should international renewables be considered as part of Clean Power Plan compliance? Is the Clean Power Plan an avenue for growth for existing international collaborations on emissions reduction and trading? During today's OnPoint, Pierre Arcand, Quebec's minister for energy and natural resources, who is in Washington, D.C., for his first official visit, discusses his meetings with a wide range of U.S. government officials this week on the power plan and cross-border energy flows.


Monica Trauzzi: Hello, and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. With me today is Pierre Arcand, Quebec's minister for energy and natural resources. Minister Arcand, thank you for joining me.

Pierre Arcand: It's a pleasure to be here.

Monica Trauzzi: Mr. Minister, this is your first official visit to Washington, D.C., and you're meeting with a wide range of U.S. government officials, from senior staff at the White House to the Department of Energy, the State Department Energy Bureau. With regards to your conversations on the Clean Power Plan, what are you pushing for on international renewables?

Pierre Arcand: Well, one of the things that I am saying here in the United States is, of course, we are there to help. We are partners. We are part of this what I call North American agenda on -- we are the epicenter of energy. So we are there to, of course, make sure that, in terms of working with the United States, of course, it is something that we want to work on, and basically what we're talking about is the fact that we have a huge utility that has a lot of clean, renewable sources of energy called Hydro-Quebec, and the -- we can help mainly, I would say, New York state, northeastern United States, and also we are now, within the next five years, we're going to get our natural gas that we used to get mainly from Alberta, we will get it from the United States. So it's a two-way street. I think it's -- we have to talk like good partners, and this is what I intend to do in this trip.

Monica Trauzzi: So are you seeking for a specific role for Quebec to be written into the Clean Power Plan?

Pierre Arcand: We would like. For years, you know, people have distinguished small hydro, big hydro. I always said, well, you know, big hydro is not exactly as good as small hydro. We think that now we have policies that really -- and I can challenge anybody on this to say that what we call the big hydro, the huge hydro, in terms of an environmental standpoint, is as good as a small hydro basically. So this is a kind of message also that we would like to see, of course, included in the future policies.

Monica Trauzzi: So what is the potential impact of the Clean Power Plan on Quebec's collaboration with California?

Pierre Arcand: Well, I think that one of the things that is interesting is that we all have to work on in the future to make sure that we have, I would say, climate initiatives, and of course, yesterday, for example, I was in Quebec City, and we were able now to have a new agreement with the Western Climate Initiative with California, and now Ontario and Quebec are working together on that issue. So now you have, I think, Washington state, you have Ontario, you have Quebec. You start to have a pretty good sizable amount of people who are now involved in what we call this market, this new market, and we hope that this will continue because I've been told that many states also are looking at this. So I think it's very, very positive in that regard.

Monica Trauzzi: So you think we could see more states jumping in and joining the WCI.

Pierre Arcand: Well, many people we have talked to seem to be interested. I think it's the way to go because it gives a lot of flexibility to companies. We -- it's working very well right now in the province of Quebec, and I think it will be the same in Ontario and other parts.

Monica Trauzzi: And how could Quebec's current relationship with the United States on energy serve as an example for states as they start crafting their compliance mechanisms for the Clean Power Plan?

Pierre Arcand: Well, I think that, you know, we have to live, of course, with oil for a certain period of time. We have energy policy. We work with the United States in trying to make sure that our energy policy is close to what's going on in the United States. And basically what we are doing is saying two things. First, we need to fight to make sure that, you know, we have a cleaner planet. I think that someone said, you know, there's no Plan B because there's no Planet B, so I think we need to work on that. That's very important on one hand. And second, we have to use our resources together. So we have the chance of having hydroelectricity. The United States has gas, a lot. We're working together on this. Even many years ago, we used to get our oil from the Middle East. Now most of the oil we get are from Texas. So, you know, there's certainly a good rapport that we need to have, and I think that we have all the tools in North America to work closer together.

Monica Trauzzi: So most of the hydro that you're exporting is to New England and New York. What do you see as the outlook for that relationship on hydro?

Pierre Arcand: Well, we are -- we got a presidential permit for what we call the Champlain Hudson Express. This is something that we are negotiating at this current moment. And there's also a project where we can work with Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and it's called the Northern Pass Project. This is a project that is possible. We have to work with the communities in order to make sure that this project is acceptable to communities, but these are the two main areas where I think we can join forces.

Monica Trauzzi: And you have meetings with Senators Shaheen and King about the cross-border energy flows. Is there something you're seeking specifically from Congress?

Pierre Arcand: Well, we would like Congress, of course, to support what we are doing. We think that it is very important. We feel that, you know, gas is not something bad. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions if you compare gas to fuel, for example. But at the same time, hydroelectricity is a clean, renewable resources. It's 100 percent clean. It's -- clearly we're going to be present in Paris where there's going to be this conference on climate change. We will have specific goals. So I think we all need to work together in order to achieve those goals.

Monica Trauzzi: All right. We'll end it there. I thank you for your time.

Pierre Arcand: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure.

Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

[End of Audio]



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