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Hello, everybody, and welcome to Urban Green Live. I'm your host, John ..., the CEO of Urban Green. This is a new program series where I'll be interviewing global experts to better understand how we get to a zero carbon future. And the good part is you get to participate, too, because we'll have live Q&A in just a little bit. Now, today we're going to continue the discussion we started a few weeks ago on the renewable grid at our annual conference. If you missed the conference, make sure you check out our website, you can see the proceedings there in the summary.
A renewable grid in New York City is now more important than ever for two reasons. First, when our Indian point nuclear power plant closes next year, our grid will nearly be 100% fossil fuel based emitting, not only carbon, but also air quality pollutants that impact health, especially in environmental justice communities. Now, the second reason the renewable grid is important is because of our local law, 97, the carbon, the Building Carbon Emissions Law in New York City. That law ties the future of buildings directly to the carbon intensity of the grid. And so, the discussion about how we get more renewable power to New York City is pressing and as important as ever.
So, today, we're going to take a deep dive and explore the role of hydropower to greening the grid in New York City. And we have a world leading expert on the program today. My guest today is Sophie Brochure, She's the new CEO of Hydro Quebec, which is a top five hydro power producer in the world, and the largest in North America. So, Sophie, welcome to Urban Green Live.
John, thank you very much. I am delighted to be with you, and to be virtually meeting, your members good morning to you all.
Great, Sophie, we're so pleased that you're spending a few moments with us today from Quebec to join and talk about this important issue. So for those that don't know, Hydro Quebec entirely, can you just give us a brief overview of your history and your operations?
Yes. I will do that. And if I may, John, before I want to extend our deep thoughts to you folks in New York City, I can tell you that when you were all going to those difficult pandemic times, our hearts were with you. Still are.
We love New York, everybody in Quebec loves New York. And we look forward to visiting you And we look forward to having you in Montreal. So, again, stay safe. And I'm happy to see that the city is doing better, although we have a lot of things to go through still. So, Hydro Quebec, as you said, John, I just joined Hydro Quebec beginning of April. I made my career into the natural gas and the electricity world.
I think that history is quite fascinating because it was born, let's say, mid 1940s out of the will of a society that was not happy in the world it was living in. So the reality was we had a lot of electricity distribution companies privately owned. And the electricity rates across the province were very different and were quite frankly very expensive.
So the will of the government and the population and design was to buy by nationalizing in the harsh sense away, they were bought. And division was to have one state's own distribution company so that the electricity rates would be the same across the province. So that each region would be, level out and and and be equal in being able to attract residents, commerce, and industries. Rapidly, and there was a vision because we have vast territories up north. There are many, many lakes, over half a million lakes, and almost 5000 large rivers. So if you were to say, well, let's make hydro power, the fundamental supply of electricity in Quebec. And this is how it was given up.
So Hydro Quebec was based, first on an economical desire to be, to be more equal, and to be more competitive rapidly, though, it became very clear. And it became even clearer in the last decade that it was also an environmental benefit. That was extraordinary.
So over 90, 99% of Hydro Quebec power comes from renewable sources and right at the beginning, it was also clear that we were part of an ecosystem. And I think the notion of ecosystem today is more important than ever.
We see in those eras how we need to rely on one another, and not, not necessarily going out from styles the energy needs to flow, and we need to put our infrastructures altogether to make sure that we bring clean, competitive, reliable energy sources to our citizens, to people, like you, or real estate developers in New York. We have a lot to do, nobody can do it alone, so we need to pull everything that we have and make sense out of it. And actually, it's interesting, because, as of today, already 5% of the New York State's power comes from Hydro Quebec. So, the goal here is to see how we can increase that, and I think we have a lot to do.
And how long have you been supplying that power to New York State?
Oh, it was, I would say, it was even before, Quebec has been supplying for over 100 years in New York. It was, it was increase through the years and at the beginning of the 1980s and all that. So. We've been connected and, and it's, it's all been logical. And the, you know, those systems, the energy systems, are capitalist by nature.
When you invest and it's true with, with wind and solar, but certainly with hydro, when we invest, those infrastructures are there for 40 years, 50 years, 60 years. So the reasoning is one of the long term basis, and this is why the relationships are so important. And the utilities, you know, people passing the companies remain. So the institutional relationships are extraordinarily important.
Yes. So I learned something new preparing for this episode, I didn't realize that, Hydro Quebec was a state owned enterprise. How does that make your operations different, recognizing that your shareholder is the government and not the market?
Well, it's, it's a very interesting thought. In North America, very few utilities, were state owned, all in Europe, you have that more. I actually ran a privately owned, publicly traded entity for many, many years.
The will of the government here is not to maximize the profit. It's a profitable, it's got to be really profitable, but it's more the optimization of the profit. Which, to me, recently, it's better with our type of businesses. So, the optimization. And it's not to say that the that the privately held publicly traded company cannot be optimizing process either. But I would say that the long, long term view here was very important.
I, I think, and I say, I think, because I just joined the company, so, on top of my mind, the assets of Hydro Quebec are all located in Quebec, right. And, we're thinking about nearly $80 billion, so we, we, we need to think long term. So, the ability to have a shareholder was the back and the shoulder, financial shuddering to move forward was extremely precious. And, again, at the time of the board of the, of the lessons of the emergence of Hydro Quebec, the driver was ....
But certainly to date, we realize the huge chance we had to be able to have, right at the start renewable energy sources, and our goal today, I would thrive our ambition, at HQ, the women and the men at HQs ambition is to share that competitive, reliable and clean energy sources with its neighbors. But we don't. We're not into. We're not into the business of building infrastructures, we are in the business of building relationships.
We are in the business of creating a network of businesses, of infrastructures, of relationships from which we can springboard to create a better future. And certainly, since certainly the vision here, for all of us, is to go beyond, what can be viewed parochial. And I'm not saying the other people's are and were not, the temptation to be parochial is very important, and the temptation to be ... with renewable sources is also very important. So, the idea here is not to view HQs power as flooding the market.
That's not the will, but how can we complement the bouquet of energy sources that you need to put in place to answer your own aspirations? How can we complement your own renewable energy sources? We certainly don't want to displace your energy sources. We want to compliment.
So, to me, your business is fascinating because you essentially turn water into electricity.
So, tell us, like, exactly how does that work? Give us the hydropower one-on-one and how you take water from a dam and get electricity powering a city on the other side? 10:36
Well, I think you you said it, right? Everybody needs to produce electricity, electricity needs to come from somewhere else and yet, you actually need to manufacture the electricity.
So, what it means is that you, electricity is what I call a noble product. And a noble product is something that can, that needs another energy to become electricity. So, you can manufacture electricity, from coal, from oil, from natural gas, from water, from sun, and from wind. So, that's, that's the base.
And then, you use these energies to the turbine or to convert it into electricity. And then this electricity is transported through transmission line to its destination where it comes to hydro. Again, maybe just for the purpose of planting the background, I would say that first Quebec is a vast, vast territory, right? And actually, our population, in the whole province of Quebec, is about the population of New York, and it's boroughs.
But New York is, it is less than 1%.The, the, the space of Quebec, so Quebec is a very vast territory, the population is on the south, and it so happens that the production capacity, the hydro capacities, the big rivers, lakes and rivers are mostly up north.
So the idea is to you have to type of, I would say, production dams. OK, sometimes you and you in the US have these, north-east like the Connecticut River, you would have as many dams so the water in Eastern cities buying in, many in many facilities as you go down the river.
And so it's run of the river.
But you also have reservoir dams, where we actually diverted some of the some of the the water currents and the rivers into figure it, the big reservoir.
And this reservoir is also something very unique because it actually acts as a battery.
So, not only is Hydro Quebec’s power renewable and all that, but it can modulate with the demand. So we can follow the pattern of the demand and make sure that, as we do, we are the most competitive for our customers possible.
So the, renewable energy is something that's that is absolutely necessary and and we must view energy again as a bouquet of means to get there.
So actually, for, for quite a while, there will be fossil fuels needed, especially on peak times the time that we get through this. But as we develop when, for example, and as we did when it gets colder, which is great, and you do that upstate New York.
And this is fantastic and you need to keep doing this, But when it wins, you have electricity, when it doesn't, you don't, when, we understand, you have electricity, when the sun isn't there, you need compliments, these, this offer with either a battery to make it, to make it 100% renewable battery level or you are intermittent. And when you offer an intermittent service, theoretically it has less value than if you can do it all the time. So one of the way to view Hydro Quebec is not only to bring clean, reliable, competitive energy and were built into your neck of the woods but also to compliment. You're own facilities south of our border and to be able to escalate. Backfilling, you're all intermittent energy sources...
So naturally if you're saying the battery capability here is capacity.
Exactly. Exactly and this is me. So talk to me about your capacity. So um, know, is it dependent on the rain? How does that work?
Yes, well you have a good point. I mean, we're talking about waters so we need to talk about water availability. So, throughout the decades, we've seen the factors of having more rain and influencing the reservoir.
Actually what we mean when I say we, the scientific data, shows that the, the, the effect of the effects of climate change is that, in that part of the world the water will be more abundant. It is already very abundant, and the fact that the reservior has been created, we can go and not only from one day to the other, not only from day, night weekly, seasonally. Actually, we can do yearly, and we operate our reservoir with a lot of the finesse in order not to over expose our reservior. And we always keep a very good margin of capacity on that is latent. And so that we never encounter a draw that would be. So when your run up the river, it is more delicate, when you have the capacity to have a reservoir. Like, we had the chance. Well, we don't have the same challenge so, this is why Hydro Quebec’s power is viewed as very reliable and competitive.
So hydropower is known for its carbon free energy. But as you well know and we've heard too and it also has its critics, the concern of indigenous people was raised at our conference when we talked about hydropower, and we have the same questions that urban green about that. So, how can New York City consider hydropower green, if it displaces indigenous communities? Can? Can you help, Can you talk to us about that? please?
Yeah. Well, you're, you're touching a point that is very dear to, Hydro Quebec’s heart, John.
Because, I've seen some presentation will, where people present ourselves like China and the 3 largest dams. Look, let's be very clear here, none of Hydro Quebec's hydropower projects have required population displacement or forced resettlement of local communities. None of that. Are we implemented in some of those communities up north yet? Just to give you a feeling there are about, over 100,000 Indigenous nations in Quebec.
There are a bit over 10 of them. They represent about 1% of the province population. I'm guessing that to say that they're de minimis. No, not at all. because they are very important in our history and in what we can achieve. So, those are important to people, but they are relatively few true, though, absolutely, right. That where we operate their concentration of their communities.
They live in 65 communities scattered throughout our territory and they make up the greater population where, they are now. How do we do that? We don't displaced population when we arrive in a region. And obviously, we are, we as, we have been better off over the last few decades than in the beginning of it. And, I think everybody can relate to the fact that we all woke up to the reality of Indigenous people and making sure that we do the right things. So, we've signed over over 40 project related agreements with those communities, and, what are the types of agreements that we saw? We sign these agreements to establish beneficial partnership with the communities and the nations. And, in this, this environment, the reality of Indigenous people, is extremely complex. They are very different from one region to another, from one community, to another.
And, the whole thing is to make sure, that we respect their values and their culture and what we're trying to do very hard. And we achieved that we're not always perfect. It's not always easy but we are definitely building better relationships to help them actively participate in Hydro Quebec's projects. So, that's the the economical benefit.
The other thing is that when we have a project, we don't come in and say, here is the project, and how can we discuss it? We try to come up stream of those projects, sometimes many years in advance. We sit down with the grand chief and it's, and it's councilmen. And we say, here's the idea. What is your reaction to it? What is your input?
Now, across the world, Indigenous people have suffered a great deal, and when one realizes that either, the government, either, in a business, you have to recognize that, there, there was a big suffering. And that, those people carry in their heart, they'd been hurt. So, when they approach something, when they approach a project, they want to make sure that we do realize that, that we don't erase the past.
And so, it's a very, it's a very delicate environment to work with. Likely decree, for example, we have, we have historical relationships And depends how they organize.
We have the E news, the as their own reality, the other will read them.
We need to be respectful of all that.
Are we perfect? Certainly not. Do we aspire to be? Absolutely, yes. And I looked at the history of chat with the people there, are still a long way to go to, not to erase the past, but to make justice with their past. And it's not only with the corporations, but also with the governments. This is a long, long endeavor, but we approach it with a lot, a lot of delicateness.
There's also the issue of methyl mercury that's been raised. And so, methyl mercury is created from altering the water cycle, which can impact fish and local habitats, and have an impact on the Indigenous people and beyond. So, how is that addressed with your operations?
Well, let me tell you, I am not a scientist, so I am not trying to elude the question, because I think it's a, it's a very factual question. I would tell you how I understand. The reality is that when you create those reservoirs, and when you do all that, yes, the mercury level increases.
Hydro Quebec was actually a world leader, in trying to see when you actually do the work to implement the reservoir, through life of the reservoir and follow, over 40 years of study the impact. And we dedicated a lot of scientific work to that with people all across the world. We didn't want to be the one saying, there is no issue.
So the fact is, there has been no known cases of mercury intoxication in wild fish consumption in Quebec.
So, what can we do know, though, is that some of the fish have increased Mercury levels, and then it comes into the knowledge of that. And how do you, how do you work that out? The mercury levels in decree population, in the James Bay region? Just for a sake, of example, were approximately half of Hydro Quebec's electricity generated.
This is where we produce half of our electricity, are actually lower today than before we actually started the work to do the reservoir. So all this is being monitored, followed and is not dismissed. But there is an, although there is a need to monitor, there is no, again, that nobody, nobody had the mercury intoxication from fish consumption over there. And there is not, I don't want to say I'm looking for my English word. It is an issue, but it's not a problem.
So we're gonna open this up to audience questions and just the best so make sure you submit them to Kaitlin. I just have a few more before we do that.
So, what is the capacity potential for New York City from Hydro Quebec, I mean how much of our a power can you supply to help us turn to green?
Look, we will be delighted to be working with the New York City. There was a project proposed by TDI, the line is permitted, the transmission line is permitted.
The transmission line is a thousand megawatts of capacity, so our goal is to be using this line in order to serve the needs of your people. I am, sorry, I don't have the specific data on your consumption. But I am sure a thousand megawatt is, is, is less than what you require. And again, we would be delighted to be a bigger part of your state's supply, and suddenly a significant springboard for your people to get to where you need to go with net carbon zero.
What's the role of technology in your industry, and how do you see that evolving just over the next 10 or 15 years?
Technology will, in every space technology is like, booming, innovation is booming. And today, just just just talking about being able to follow the load, follow the demand.
Yesterday, people had commit for big chunks 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365. Now, we can modulate all that. We have the systems to do that. We have the infrastructure to do that. But now we can have this technology installed in the buildings and you know, about the ... . We can have that infrastructure into the building to be more intelligent and sending a signal to exactly follow the loan to where you're going. one of our big, big thing at HQ is energy efficiency.
And it seems counter-intuitive to say we are going to help the people we serve, to consume less of what we sell. And we have this deep belief, and it seems counter when you think about the bottom line of the, of your company. But this is the right thing to do for the society in general, for both financial reasons and environmental reasons.
So, the technology today allows for managing system load, demand load. You are, you are real estate developers, I'm sure you know all about it. How the extra load of one building can be used to balance the load of another type of facilities in your neck of the woods.
I am convinced that if New York City was to be better linked between its own buildings, then the requirement of your own ecosystems would be less than the sum of all of your part and technology will be able to play a role.
So, you need, you need to make sure that, that you get access to the renewable energy sources, and whatever it, you want to use as less possible event, because you have other things to do with your money, and to be an electricity bill. That's just a mental posture, that we have people. It could people would use no energy. And so there is no trailing paying an electricity bill. And but you want to use the best energy possible, reliable, competitive, and make the most out of it. So technology will play a big role on the demand side of the energy.
And, and we've always talked too much about the production, and not enough about the consumption.And the whole thing today is that people like you need to consume better and now we're all thinking about, you know, what consumption would be, so, we need to be linked intelligently.
Now, what about capacity? So, what is the potential of hydropower in general or Hydro Quebec specifically without having to build new dams? Liike you know or are you at capacity now or you know, is there is there still great opportunity and potential out there
OK, so let me answer that question because it's a very interesting question, and it's a, it's one of optimization. So, if you figure a graphic, and you think about the evolution of demand, the evolution of power demand, unless you have a really huge industrial implementation, would follow a straight line, right? Actually, the load in the residential sector, and all that goes down because of energy efficiency. But let's say the the movement is very linear and subtle.
But at one point of time, this subtlety adds up. For example, in Quebec, we are big. We have a big endeavor to move into electric vehicles because our energy scheme competitive, reliable renewable, and all that. So, we have, we have a big purchases and added demand. So, at one point of time, when you bring in new and large energy stock, by definition, you will have more capacity than exactly what they want.
It creates a potential, and this potential is to be batterized, either in our territory, Either with our neighbors. At the same time, and I want to go back to that, the energy efficiency, that we can develop here in Quebec, and we've launched programs. We, one of the programs, among many others, that we launched a couple of weeks ago, is we're going to invest at Hydro Quebec, 80 million a year in energy efficiency. Our commercial customer, this is the niche of that specific product, will avoid $35 million a year of the electricity bill.
It will boost the economy, because of equipments and suppliers know that $160 million and it creates a whole portion of load that is freed up to either being exported either being supplying to electricity. So, long story short, we have capacity, we have a new capacity but we have existing dams that have been there for a longtime for example. And now, we're going to invest to ensure the permanency of those dams now without touching the eighth of the reservoir and nothing that a new modern system by itself increases capacity also. So, as we move forward, we have capacity.
What I can say though, is that we don't have, we don't use we will not be using the world anymore surpluses. A surplus is after a meal after a meal, leftovers. So the the energy that we have is latent energy and it's a meal waiting to be searched. And we're going to serve that additional meal to people in our territory. And we'd be delighted to share that meal with you in New York City.
So you're the CEO of one of the world's largest hydro power companies, what's, And you've only been in the job a few weeks. So maybe this is an unfair question, but what's your biggest worry?
It's not an unfair question. My worry is not a worry of being the CEO of Hydro Quebec. My worry right now, John, is given the context that we're in the financial strain on public finances, on private finances, as such, that it would be tempting to go fast to boost economy, and I think we have a once in a lifetime opportunity here, to try to solve two crisis for the price of one.
And, we absolutely need to make sure, that, whenever it's possible, that the money that is invested, is invested in the, in the mindset, that we need to prevent another crisis, that actually can be worse than what we have seen.
So, my worry right now, is to make sure that as we move forward, we create plans that not only we boost the economy, which is permanently important, but that we invest that money to do a better good for our society.
That's what I am, an economist by formation, and that's what I am, that I am concern with. I see a lot of money being invested, I want to make sure it is invest in the right way. And, and, and the line we're talking about, and what you have to do in New York, incidentally, is in that stream of thought.
So, one more question. So for the audience, feel free to keep sending them into Kaitlin in the chat line. So something my final question is, this is a program series about a zero carbon Future. So, Sophie, how, in your opinion, how do we get to zero carbon in our society?
Zero carbon is a huge challenge, humongous. Is it doable? The answer is, The answer is yes. We need to develop a path.
Each territory wants to be as efficient as possible, energy wise. Each territory wants to be, ... energy wise.
So the the idea here is that New York needs to start to build its own energy sources. You need to keep doing this.It has start to revamp some of its buildings and to make sure that when possible, you use less fossil fuels.
I come from, I've been working 30 years in a natural gas distribution company, who developed itself into electricity, solar, wind. And I've come to the belief that, as you embark into this journey, you need to understand it's a journey. And you cannot go from 100 to 0 years, but you need to be determined.
And you need to be thinking about energy as a portfolio of energy, and using the right energy at the right place in the right time. Just that goes a long way into moving forward the net zero. So, for example. And in New York, you either read densify natural Gas solution system, and you have a very dense electricity distribution system.
Logically, You could suddenly think that some of the baseload used to heat buildings, I say, with natural gas, could/should be moving to electricity. While in the peak times, it might be very sensible, intelligent, more efficient to use that natural gas system to serve the peak. Because if you were to electrify everything, it would probably be a mistake.
Electrification is not an end. It's a mean, it's a super, mean. But again, it needs to be manufactured. So. one, I want to come back to that, because in that spirit, the approach of Hydro Quebec is not to flood New York and say we're going to be the solution for you all. You need to develop your own. But as you would be mainly intermittent wind and solar, view us as a back stopper. I think you want to develop as much as you can. Those sources are intermittent. You cannot rely on intermittent.
And actually, if you look what happened in Germany, they started to a lot to do a lot of wind, and the added wind they added wind the added energy, right. Not capacity, they added energy systems. And, at one point, they realized it, nothing was balanced. So, they went back and they actually went back with coal based land supply. That example, you don't, we don't want to get into that. So, view Hydro Quebec as an enabler of your own energy, renewable energy development, where we can backfill, when needed, your own renewables .
So, as we work together with complementary sources, from a supply standpoint, we can work toward a net zero future. But we actually absolutely have to work on demand and Energy efficiency needs to be put in place.
There is there is no reason no reason that the water either in a condo in a house during the day keeps heating to water. Why did we do that?
Why do we keep heating to water while we're away? We don't we don't need that. So, we need to have the systems that say, when nobody's in the house, the water heater will be turned down for 2, 3 hours. It will free up that capacity, it will come back before the people come back and people will not even notice.
So it's, again, we've put a lot of emphasis on production over the last few years, or over the last decades, forever, virtually. And now, we're starting to see, OK, we actually need to work. So, there is a lot of work to do.
And New York, has everything to be the showcase of the success of intelligence on how you can do that. Because you have all the pieces, and again, we'd love to partner with you. We don't pretend to be the solution, but we can be a good chunk of your springboard.
Great with that Kaitlin, let's open it up to audience questions.
Sounds good. The first question we have here is from Danielle. It's a two part question. The first part is hydropower currently supplied by Hydro Quebec, qualify for tier one renewable energy credits under New York State's current clean energy standard?
Then the second part of the question is, Would hydropower supplied to New York City from Hydro Quebec through the Champlain Power Hudson Express Line, qualify for either tier one renewable energy credits or potentially for NYSERDA's new newly proposed tier for energy credits for renewable energy that directly sinks into New York City?
OK, well, Danielle, thank you for your question. This is a very specific question, and very, very detailed one. I certainly do not pretend to understand everything you're talking about, but I do know that right now we are very productive conversations. In order to have people in New York and in other states, to understand exactly what kind of environmental attributes we are bringing to the table, and it will be up to the constituencies in your state to determine the value of the environmental attributes of our product.
And I think just a little bit more color on that is that the essence of the question is the view on hydropower from these projects is evolving to be one that moves in a direction that would qualify more than qualify less. And that's an active, ongoing issue that we see going right now with our Public Service Commission.
Great, and I think you answered this briefly earlier, but how much does weather affect electrical capacity and production?
It's, well, weather it's, it's, it's, let's call it the ebbs and flows. The, the, as, you can imagine, the scientific community across the world, and especially in Quebec, and within Hydro Quebec, has been, has been following the patterns for many, many years. The tendency that we see and it remains to be, you know, we'll know in in 20, 30, 40 years, but the tendency that, we see that, we have more and more water as we see climate change. And, again, the way for Hydro Quebec to make sure that we never come any close to issues of reliability with the people that, we serve, we, we keep a very high margin. Which, again, comes back John, to your, to your point.
We could stretch ourselves to make more profit, but we don't, because we want to make sure that we will, because the reliability, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, reliability is king. Or queen. I don't know why, I don't know what they should say. Probably queen. Just a joke, but reliability is so important.
Actually, it is more important than renewable because if you are renewable completely, but not reliable, it won't work. So reliability is extremely important, and this we cherish this in everything we do in all the plans that we do. And again, we have a lot of capacity to move through the years. We don't manage that as well on a daily basis, although we do. But we manage the reservoir through years of life cycle, But the tendency that seems to to, to present itself is to have more water than this. It so happens this way.
OK, the next question we have is from Zohrab. Is the Champlain Hudson line also permitted on the Canadian side of the border?
No, we are going through this process. Right now, we we are confident that we will cross the line. We need to do it intelligently with fairness and all that. But we, we are, we have actually started the work and we are embarking into this. I let say, let me put it this way. I wouldn't have this conversation if I didn't get the feeling that that would be taken care of.
OK, this question is from Adam. What is the biggest obstacles standing in the way of getting Quebec’s hydropower to New York City?
The biggest challenge, I think, it's a, it's a, frankly speaking, is too, is for the people to organize and gather consumption. Because the line is in the US is permitted. Is that to make sure that and it's a matter of us, finding. these are long lead decisions, but at one point, somebody needs to make a decision.
And please understand my, my comments here. Not to be threatening in a way, but if, for example, the demand does not materialize gathered. The demand, the meal to be served will be served somewhere. It is our will, our hope, and dream, to serve it to you.
So, I think that you know, events like today makes it makes it understandable that OK, let's do it. If you want to do with, how do we do with, how do we have a group, how do we sign out. How do we have the grid moving forward? So it's been, it's been in the topics for a long time, I think, pandemic was kind of putting us on hold, let's go back to the table and work it out. And we're all ready. So, actually. It's more, it's more of, OK, let's make it happen.
Great. And this question is from Annie. Hydro Quebec is a monopoly. Will, Hydro Quebec allow for cross reciprocity and access to the Quebec market by New York electricity producers?
It is, It is already the case.
Great. This is from Jamison. How do you deal with hydroelectricity’s negative reputation? Generally, habitat destruction, displacement of people, altered, hydrology, et cetera.
Well, I think I've covered that. There is a lot of myth over there, again, displacement of people, we've never displaced. People never, never know community, and that's the story. And I'll tell you something that I am a deep believer in. Having had the career I had a nd I'm being where I am today, I am convinced, that's the industry's players.
Have often the wrong approach to the needs, and the, and the requirements of our society. And the wrong approach is that we want to protect our energy files against whatever we view other energy files as competitors. And I am, I am, the contrary opinion.
So oftentimes, people don't agree, we don't agree with hydro electricity, are protecting their file. Are protecting their fossil fuels file.
And and and people attack, hydro and some. Some of the concerns are very legitimate and we need to answer them. But again the myth of displacing people. The myth of inundation and all that is exactly that a myth. And a long, long time ago A long, long time ago I had the privilege. I was 27 so 30 years ago.
I have a few friends in the Consolidated Edison in New York, And Consolidated Edison,, commercial relationship with my recruitment, and at that time, I was at the natural gas distribution company.And we have started to do a partnership altogether. Long story short: Hydro Quebec offered to people at Con Ed to fly out and to visit the big reservoir.
So I flew with them. I was not at Hydro Quebec,I was with the natural gas distribution companies, and I was with Con Ed and did both natural gas and power.
And as we walked and approached the reservoir. What do people do? We are in silence. You are in silence, because you see how it's made. You see what is implied. You see those vastness, and you say this is the power of a whole region, not only of Hydro Quebec, and it's actually feels great to be a human by that reservoir.
And as I can make sure, we are we're very proud of having put this together, again, Were we perfect,no? Were we way better today than we were, absolutely?
And I invite all the energy files to not view themselves as competitors, but as a supplier in the bouquet. And the bouquet is not us to decide is to the customers it's to people who are within Urban Green to decide.
And I think it will be a bouquet for a long, long time. But if any of us wants to have and keep 100% of the bouquet, it's not the companies that will suffer. It's the people.It's the customers is the society, and then we will have collectively fail.
So I invite everybody who carry these myths, to reason in a very broad sense and not in the competitive jugular share market way. Am I naive maybe? But I certainly believe it's the best way to serve the society we are responsible for.
Thank you. This next question is from Richard, I think you answered the first part already. Does Hydro Quebec power capacity match, it's dam capacity, and then the second half is, Or is there today, significant dam capacity to which generation could be added? And you just spoke a little bit too fast on my poor English. So, I didn't get the second part of the question.
No problem, I said, Is there today significant dam capacity to which generation could be added?
Oh, yes. I mean, the potential, the latent potential of that capacity can be increased and one day will.
But, again, if you reason it from the whole system perspective, the, you know, the traditional way of the utility was to build infrastructure build, build, build, and then increase rate base and make more money. This is not the way, the reason, the company, the way we are reasoning's work on the demand side. Complement with other renewable energy sources, we are building a solar project on the South Shore of Montreal, where we increase the case of someone who said, Well, three times. Absolutely. So we have a lot of means and tools at our disposal to supply our market and supply our neighbors, the ability to increase is there.
But again, we have to be sensible and making sure that we do it in the least cost perspective, not only on the short-term basis, but on the long term basis, because the goal here with climate change, the big challenge is not to decarbonize. The big challenge is to decarbonize at the least, cost possible.
That is where the challenge is. This is where brainpower needs to come in. And this is where working everybody together to budge, baseload, with peak close along the power as we move forward. And I, I, I So, yeah, I think there's plenty of way to look at it and we are comfortable in Quebec with our ability to move two times.
Great. At the next question is: What are the new jobs and or skills needed for workers in the Canadian power generation sector?
When we need all the skills, I think, I would say that the traditional skills what they what I personally call the old experience is still so very important. But there is no doubt, also that at the other end of the spectrum, innovation capacity is formidably important. Hydro Quebec has innovated a lot through the years. And we have a research center at Quebec.
We invest, we do not spend we invest 100 million a year into research. So, and it takes a lot of faith to do that. Many research center across North America just disappeared.
But investing in their research allow us to think about the future. So even, we have invested a lot over the last few years into, over the last decades, in the battery sector. We are investing a lot right now, with hydrogen. Hydrogen, will be able to be injected in natural gas network to be blended and be fungible and enjoyable. And one day, you will take hydrogen CO two. You will merge the two. You will have a perfectly, again, renewable hydrogen if you use renewable electricity to do it. So, I think all the traditional skills are exactly there. Again, but innovations, thought process. And, again, again, thinking as much within the walls of the customer. Than within the walls of a dam, is the way for us to think about the future.
So I think that that for a utility today, whatever you do, you need to have soft skills. And we need to have engineers who can build bridges between two to over a river, but you need to have people who have the skill to build bridges between the people.
And those soft skills are equally as important. And we need the anthropologist, and we need historians. We need to understand the Indigenous communities environment. So it's just we need to move away from strictly engineer's perspective, which is very important to more of a societal skillset. And the society link towards engineer and harsh stuff. So it's a, it's a fascinating time, it's a, it's a, Hydro Quebec is intriguing from the outside when you get in, it's, it's fascinating, fascinating.
Then this is going to be our last question here. The energy sector has a largely male demographic, as the agencies first female CEO, do you see substantially more opportunities for women, people of color, indigenous people more now than in the past? And what changes, are you seeing anything?
Absolutely, Absolutely. One of, the first thing I've made, was to make sure that the people who report to be my, my table, my committee. That's an essential would be, would have more female, around the table. We're not equal yet, we're five out of twelve, but it's pretty good. And we also have a lot of room to have more people from an ethnic diversity from sexual diversity, from whatever I always say, you walk on the street, you see diversity you get into an office and you go, Where does this office located? And we, we have we have we need more diversity.
And John, I come back to your comment earlier on what, what keeps me awake at night, I would say that as we are preparing the plans for tomorrow, and as we are planning for the new norm, the new reality, and for a more easy way of doing our business, and delivering products and services, being government, being home, being residents, being business, as we do that. We need to make sure that the plan makers include diversity.
Because, if you look, actually, if you look at the crisis that we just went through, many of the cellular decreases, the crisis unit, managed, decreased, were led by women.And why wasn't, it was that? Because it was contrary to 2008 and 2009, this wasn't a financial crisis, it was a people crisis, was a citizen crisis, it was a taxpayer crisis, it was an employer crisis, and then other women were put in charge of the Crisis Unit.
Now, we need to make sure that we have women and diversity in planning for the future and developing the plans. And I told my people, if you're planning a project, if you're planning for whatever future strategic plan and whatever, if the thought process, not the consultation process, If the thought process does not include the parity of gender, then it's not the plan. It's an idea.
It will be a plan when you will have to have diversity in creating the plan. And that, again, oh, we've consultant with ABC at the thought process. Then we'll be more resilient.
And that's what I hope for, for everybody and again, I want to say, John, how much I appreciate the opportunity to come to your virtual meeting. I, we, all in Quebec, we wish you health and safety. And again, from Hydro Quebec, the women and men of Hydro Quebec, we will be delighted to be part of your energy bouquet and creating those long, long term relationships.
Sophie, thank you. I want to thank my guests, Sophie Brochure who is the CEO of Hydro Quebec for this really informative discussion, this window into hydropower that we hope was informative for everybody. So, Sophie, Sophie, thank you so much for spending time with Urban Green today and our stakeholders.
Today's program is a great example of the work that we do at Urban Green. We take on the biggest challenges with the biggest solutions to make the biggest impact and we do that through our four key activities: we convene, we research, we advocate, and we educate. Check out our website at urbangreencouncil.org to find out more about how we make a sustainable future.