To the Editor: Misleading outburst

To the Editor: 

It’s frustrating to read the author’s decries about a lack of transparency while she either knowingly or unknowingly spreads misinformation across the pages of the Islander (Islander, Aug 12). 

We understand that not everyone supports the project, but could we at least have a discussion based on evidence and facts. 

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

Moreover, opponents, like volunteers from the Sierra Club, 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, our reservoirs are in northern Quebec, a boreal climate, with much less decomposition, and with waters that are cold and far more oxygenated. This leads to CO2 levels that are consistent with the region’s lakes, rivers and streams. 

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 is used, based on more than 500,000 field measurements, and assessed in more than 100 published scientific papers, the greenhouse gas emissions from our system are shown to be very small when compared to fossil fuel generation and comparable to those of other renewables like wind and solar. 

Wind and solar are intermittent sources of energy and require a backup. Hydropower can act as a balancer for other renewables, when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun isn’t shinning. Currently, wind and solar are backed up by burning fossil fuels. 

The environmental organizations mentioned in this article oppose the Clean Energy Corridor, which will remove 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of 700,000 cars off the road. Yet, they have nothing else to propose but to keep burning fossil fuels.  

That’s the discussion they don’t want to have with Mainers. Sierra Club claims to be for protecting the environment, but is spending a lot of time, energy and money protecting big oil’s profits. 


Serge Abergel 

Director of Communications for Hydro-Québec 

Québec, Canada 

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