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Bulletin

Québec’s new energy policy unveiled

Fasken
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Energy & Environmental Bulletin

With the Politique énergétique du Québec 2030: L’énergie des Québécois – Source de croissance (the “Energy Policy”), the Québec Government is tackling the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) in Québec: the production, transportation and consumption of energy. The Québec Government is moving toward a low-carbon economy while ensuring that the territory’s energy resources are developed. The targets announced in the Energy Policy are ambitious:

  1. IMPROVE energy efficiency by 15%
  2. REDUCE the amount of petroleum products consumed by 40%
  3. ELIMINATE the use of thermal coal
  4. INCREASE the total production of renewable energy by 25%
  5. INCREASE the production of bioenergy by 50%

The Energy Policy sets out the major guidelines that will shape Québec’s energy transition over the next 15 years. Below is a summary of what lies ahead for Québec.

Guideline 1: Ensure an integrated governance for energy transition

Create a one-stop shop

The Government intends to create a new body under the responsibility of the ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (“MÉRN”) with the mandate of providing energy innovation, efficiency and substitution services in connection with the achievement of the targets set by the Energy Policy. All services and programs offered by the different governmental departments and bodies will be coordinated by a single administration responsible for all aspects of the energy transition.

Revised role for the Régie de l’énergie (Energy Board)

The new mandate of the Régie de l’énergie will be to comment on the master plan proposed by the new body and the relevance of any budget requested in order to achieve the goals set by the Government. To do so, several substantial amendments to the Act respecting the Régie de l’énergie (CQLRQ, c R 6.01) are contemplated, in particular with respect to the setting of electricity and natural gas distribution and transportation rates. 

Modernize the energy project approval process

The Government, in collaboration with the various governmental bodies responsible for a project’s environmental, social and economic issues, including the Régie de l’énergie, will rethink the assessment and approval process applicable to energy projects in order to make it more effective without, however, making it more burdensome.

Guideline 2: Promote the transition to a low-carbon footprint economy

Under this second guideline, the Government intends to act on (i) the energy consumption of households and business, (ii) the energy choices of industry, and (iii) the transportation habits of individuals and the transport of merchandise. The Government also intends to serve as an example by making concrete commitments with respect to buildings and vehicles falling under its responsibility.

Guideline 3: Increase investments in renewable energy

The Québec Government wants to increase renewable energy production by optimizing existing production equipment and by further promoting wind energy production, in particular through exports (including increased interconnections with the United States and neighbouring provinces), by promoting the conversion of fuel oil and diesel supplies in communities that are not served by the network (e.g. Kuujjuarapik, Tasiujaq, Obedjiwan and the Magdalen Islands), and by supporting industrial stakeholders with specific needs (e.g. greenhouses and ski resorts). Québec intends to continue supporting the production of residual forest biomass energy and liquefied renewable natural gas (biomethane).

The Québec Government is counting on these renewable energy sources and an extended natural gas distribution network to enhance the economic attractiveness of Québec’s regions for the industry.

Guideline 4: New approach to hydrocarbons

The Québec Government will intensively monitor the transportation of hydrocarbons on Québec territory and foster the use of the safest technical and environmental practices.

Based on the strategic environmental assessments (currently ongoing) final report, the Government will decide whether or not to continue exploring and developing hydrocarbons in Québec. In this context, it will enact a specific regulatory framework applicable to the exploration and production of oil and gas to ensure the social acceptability of projects, take into account land planning, and enhance public participation. This legal framework will provide for the strictest technical and environmental standards based on best practices used around the world.

Conclusion

The Québec Government is relying on an energy transition to an innovative, sustainable economy that will not only make room for new green technologies and renewable energy, but also for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons subject to a comprehensive regulatory framework compatible with both the achievement of Québec’s GHG emission reduction targets and the continued presence of the petrochemical industry. In addition to increased business opportunities, we expect significant legislative and regulatory changes to come as a result of the Energy Policy. Rest assured that we will keep you informed about any changes and how they will affect your activities.

We invite you to consult the Energy Policy Highlights (PDF – currently available in French only).

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