Montreal

Hydro-Québec board members resign as CAQ government seeks to kill wind-energy deal

Two members of Hydro-Québec's board of directors, including chair Michael Penner, have resigned amid reports the new provincial government is taking steps to cancel a wind-energy project they supported.

Chair, vice-chair stepped down this week, citing differences with utility's CEO

Michael Penner had reportedly come to the conclusion that his days were numbered and that the Legault government intended to replace him. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Two members of Hydro-Québec's board of directors, including chair Michael Penner, have resigned amid reports the new provincial government is taking steps to cancel a wind-energy project they supported.

Penner and vice-chair Michelle Cormier announced they were stepping down earlier this week, sources told Radio-Canada.

They were backers of the Apuiat wind project on the North Shore. A provisional agreement reached in the summer would have seen the utility buy energy from a 200-megawatt wind farm run in partnership with the Innu community and Boralex, a renewable energy firm.

The deal was championed by the previous Liberal government and is seen by Innu leaders as vital to the community's economic development.

But it was opposed by Hydro's president and CEO, Éric Martel, who said the utility already has an energy surplus and was unlikely to turn a profit.

In announcing their resignation, Penner and Cormier cited "broken trust" with Hydro's senior leadership, according to Radio-Canada's sources.

Legault cited Apuiat deal during campaign 

During the recent election campaign, Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault pointed to Martel's opposition in criticizing the deal. 

For Legault, it represented the inefficient government spending of the Liberal government. 

After taking power last month, Legault's team authorized Hydro to find a way to cancel the Apuiat deal, Radio-Canada reported recently.

Penner was appointed by Philippe Couillard's government in 2014 with a term set to end in 2023. Cormier was appointed by Jean Charest's Liberal government in 2009.

Penner had come to the conclusion that his days were numbered and that the Legault government intended to replace him, according to a report by the The Canadian Press.

It is unknown if the process to replace the two directors is underway.  

With files from Radio Canada and La Presse Canadienne