April 14, 2014
On April 14, 1944, the Québec government, then headed by Premier Adélard Godbout, passed the act creating the Québec Hydro-Electric Commission (Hydro-Québec) and expropriated the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company. Setting up Hydro-Québec led to improved customer service, standardized rates for consumers and the launch of major hydroelectric development projects in the Côte-Nord. At the end of 1944, Hydro-Québec would hire its first French-speaking engineer, Robert Boyd, who would become the company's CEO at the end of the 1970s.
In 1944, World War II was drawing to a close, leading to an increase in consumption in Québec. Households purchased home appliances and industry was booming. To meet this growing demand, Hydro-Québec broke ground for Bersimis-1 and Bersimis-2 in the Côte-Nord region, where all required infrastructure had to be built. It took daring and innovation. A number of other projects followed, including those on the Manicouagan and Rivière aux Outardes, also in Côte-Nord, in the late 1950s.
Thus began a great adventure that, combined with the nationalization of 1963, was to endow Québec with an world-renowned, major corporation that now operates 61 hydropower generating stations with an installed capacity of 36,068 MW, manages 34,000 km of transmission lines, supplies 4.1 million customers, and controls assets worth $73.1 billion.
1962-63: A Pivotal Moment
Fall of 1962 was a pivotal moment for the utility and for Québec society. The Québec government, headed by Jean Lesage, proposed the nationalization of all power utilities during an election campaign under the slogan Maîtres chez nous [masters in our own house]. Led by René Lévesque, on May 1, 1963, Hydro-Québec bought up the shares of ten private electric companies then serving various regions of Québec.
To support Québec's economic development and secure its energy future, Hydro-Québec faced a number of challenges, including standardizing rates throughout the province, electrifying rural areas and setting up an effective distribution grid.
Creator of Wealth
Today, Hydro-Québec boasts many advances and developments, achieved with respect for the environment and communities, and employ 20,000 people throughout the province. Our business generates considerable economic spinoffs for all regions. For instance, the Romaine project currently under way will generate an estimated $3.5 billion for Québec, including approximately $1.3 billion for the Côte-Nord.
Hydropower: Energy for the Future
In celebrating its 70th anniversary, Hydro-Québec is also celebrating its perpetual youth, thanks to its focus on clean, renewable hydropower, essential in a time of climate change.
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