Legault will force Hydro-Québec to return $1.5B to its customers

The Quebec government is expected to force Hydro-Québec aimed at returning $1.5 billion to customers who have been overpaying the Crown corporation for electricity.

Reimbursement is expected to come in the form of a tariff freeze

Hydro-Québec owes its customers some $1.5 billion and the government is going to force the Crown corporation to pay it back in the form of a cap on rate increases. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government is expected to force Hydro-Québec to return $1.5 billion to customers who have been overpaying the Crown corporation for electricity.

Hydro-Québec earned higher returns than authorized by the Régie de l'énergie in recent years.

The government is planning to introduce a bill Wednesday that will force the Crown corporation to pay its customers back by limiting any rate increase to the rate of inflation.

Hydro-Québec declined to comment Tuesday, saying the bill has not yet been tabled in the National Assembly.

Premier François Legault was critical of Hydro's earnings while leader of the opposition, calling it a "disguised tax."

"I understand that people are frustrated, they would like to see some money coming back, I've asked Hydro-Québec to make an effort," he said.

He declined to comment on how the money would be returned to customers. 

For some people, slashing rates would be an appropriate measure. 

Seethal Pathak is hoping for a reduction in rates so that everyone can afford to heat their homes. (CBC)

Seethal Pathak works at Project Genesis, an anti-poverty non-profit in Cote-des-Neiges. She said some people can only afford to heat part of their apartment.

"[They] go to the mall to avoid their cold apartments or who even make the choice between eating or heating," she said.

A petition from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation last month was delivered to the Legault government with some 75,000 signatures, demanding Quebec reimburse Hydro customers.

With files from Radio-Canada and CBC's Arian Zarrinkoub


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