Hydro-Québec to proceed with $1.3B transmission line project

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has announced Hydro-Québec will go ahead with the construction of a new $1.3-billion transmission line from Lac–Saint-Jean to Montreal.

Premier Philippe Couillard approves line despite environmental review board's call for more study

Hydro-Québec plans to proceed with the construction of a new $1.3 billion transmission line from Lac-Saint-Jean to Montreal. (CBC)

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has announced Hydro-Québec will go ahead with the construction of a new $1.3-billion transmission line which will run 450 kilometres, from Chamouchouane in the Lac–Saint-Jean region to Bout-de-l'Île, in Montreal.

The line would be, 'a 450-kilometre scar across Quebec,'- Rawdon Mayor Bruno Guilbault

The provincially owned utility says the proposed 735-kilovolt power line – the biggest undertaking of its kind in Quebec in 20 years – will help meet growing demand for electricity in southern Quebec and reduce electricity losses.

Premier Philippe Couillard, flanked by Natural Resources and Energy Minister Pierre Arcand (left) and Hydro-Québec president and CEO Thierry Vandal, announced a plan to construct a new transmission line.

In a report released last month, the province's environmental review board, the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE), recommended that further study was needed before the project could be approved.

Premier Philippe Couillard acknowledged that there was some opposition to the project, but he said it was in the best interests of all Quebecers.

"No large project will be unanimously agreed upon, but we have held extensive consultations," said Couillard.

The major new line will cut through the Lanaudière region, northeast of Montreal – near the town of Rawdon.

Rawdon Mayor Bruno Guilbault, who was at today's announcement, said many people in his community are worried about the project, which he called a "450-kilometre scar across Quebec."

Guilbault said Hydro-Québec has done a poor job of explaining the project, adding that he hopes future meetings would help clarify some of his concerns.

Hydro-Québec 'like a bulldozer'

The line will cut right through Rawdon dairy farmer Jeannie Neveu's land.

Neveu testified at the BAPE hearings to voice her opposition to the project.

"Hydro-Quebec's like a bulldozer. It gets something and it just goes, and it's very annoying," Neveu said Friday.

"The only way that a citizen or a person has a say in anything is at these public hearings — and we went and they listened, but obviously the government's not listening to them so why bother? It's just a waste.  A waste of my time — a waste of everybody's time."

The project is expected to be completed in 2019.