Viewpoint: Enough is enough – The facts about the Clean Energy Corridor 



By Serge Abergel 

We see once again that the oil and gas companies, financing opposition to the Clean Energy Corridor, push their “talking points” into the hands of unsuspecting writers. The result – another letter to the editor spreading misinformation, this time showing up in the Islander authored by Richard Aishton. 

With respect to the suggestion that Hydro-Quebec is involved in the practice of backfilling local and other demand with fossil fuel power sources, this is neither true nor possible since both Quebec and all of Hydro-Québec’s surrounding markets have strict requirements for the use of renewable power, to the extent that changes in any of these markets will need to be met with new renewable energy sources. 

The writer also claims Maine’s regulatory agencies did not look out for his interests when granting approval for the Clean Energy Corridor. It’s not even remotely possible that experts from the Maine PUC, Maine Land Use Planning Commission, Maine DEP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could all be wrong, yet the author is right.  

As an example of the work by state agencies, Maine DEP’s permit placed stringent standards on the project. You can read about it on DEP’s website. 

Regarding greenhouse gas emissions associated to hydropower, they increase immediately after reservoir creation and decline to the natural levels of surrounding lakes within four to eight years (a short period for infrastructure designed to last a century). 

Moreover, opponents misleadingly compare Hydro-Quebec’s reservoirs to those in tropical climates, which are biologically more active and therefore produce methane: a potent greenhouse gas. By comparison, Hydro-Quebec’s reservoirs are in northern Quebec, a boreal climate, with much less decomposition, and waters that are far more oxygenated. This leads to a small production of methane and CO2 levels are consistent with the region’s lakes, rivers and streams. 

Even within Quebec, reservoir emissions differ from one installation to another. But asserting that hydropower reservoir emissions are comparable to fossil fuel is just bad science. When real emissions data from our actual reservoirs are used, based on more than 500,000 field measurements, and assessed in more than 100 published scientific papers, the greenhouse gas emissions from the Hydro-Quebec’s reservoir system are shown to be very small when compared to fossil fuel generation and comparable to those of other renewables such as wind and solar. 

The NECEC will remove more than 3 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the region every year. That’s the equivalent of removing 700,000 cars from the road annually. 

And finally, there are three important things to know at the end of the day: 

1.) Maine gets power – enough for 70,000 homes.  

2.) To protect their profits, oil and gas companies are financing 95 percent of the project’s opposition.  

3.) Say no to big oil and gas.  

 

Serge Abergel is the director of communications for Hydro-Quebec. 

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