Hydro-Quebec looks to expand into New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK - Energy officials in Quebec believe they can help New York state meet its ambitious renewable energy and environmental goals.

Executives from Hydro-Quebec, a government-owned utility that provides most of the province's energy, were in Albany talking with state political and energy leaders about how the two states can work together. One of those officials was Richard Cacchione, president of Hydro-Quebec Production, who sat down with a Times Union reporter at the Fort Orange Club.

Forty percent of the electricity that Hydro-Quebec exports ends up in New York - and all of that is made with renewable and clean hydro plants, he said. Getting electricity from outside the state is important for New York, which is facing a crunch for new power sources as demand for power grows, especially in the New York City area.

New York also has a program in place, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard, to get 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2013. Now Hydro-Quebec, which operates roughly 60 hydro plants, is seeking to expand and upgrade its facilities, with plans to pump $3 billion annually into its facilities over the next five to seven years.

"We feel there is more and more interest in New York," Cacchione said. "We're providing green energy. Ours is green. We can help you a lot."

He said one of the things that would help Hydro-Quebec is more long-term contracts from New York customers. Hydro-Quebec currently sells a lot of its electricity in New York through the wholesale "spot" market, but Cacchione said it would help if the utility could sign more long-term contracts.

The state Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities in the state, has discouraged long-term contracts for power in New York to support free markets and the state's deregulation policy. Power plant owners have called on the PSC to allow them, saying investors who build plants like the economic security of such contracts.

"We're certainly encouraging the PSC to take a look at that," said Chris LaRoe, spokesman for Independent Power Producers of New York, a trade association that represents power plants in the state.


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