The pandemic will cost “hundreds of millions” of Hydro

La pandémie coûtera «quelques centaines de millions» à Hydro

The COVID-19 is going to be expensive to Hydro-Québec, warned Monday the CEO of the State-owned company, citing a decline in revenues of “several hundred million” by the end of the year.

Hydro-Quebec posted a net profit of $ 2.9 billion in 2019, and contributed $ 4.2 billion to the income of the government of Quebec, which is its sole shareholder. The results of the 2020 promise to be much less positive.

“It strikes, it spanks hard “, commented the new president and chief executive officer of Hydro-Québec.

“Until June, it is already 130 million less in the coffers of the Crown corporation, she said on the sidelines of a conference organised by the Chamber of commerce of metropolitan Montreal (BTMM).

It has, however, refused to specify the extent of the financial impact of the health crisis on the finances of the public enterprise, recalling that this one is far from over.

This decrease in revenues is explained mainly by the consumption of electricity lesser of the share of industrial and commercial customers of Hydro-Québec since that most economic activities have been put on pause, on the 13th of march.

But, the COVID-19 has the wide back

No question for now of provide programs of financial assistance to these businesses that may have been slow to pay their electricity bill, supported Ms. Brochu, recalling that the COVID-19 “back off” time to run.

“Suddenly [some companies] say that they can ask for things. We, we are not in a logical erase debts, but to clear payments. “

The ruling has, however, attempted to be reassuring, no restructuring or layoff being necessary for the moment because of the financial results.

Enough of a visible minority ?

In addition, three weeks after the beginning of the protests Black Lives Matter in order to denounce systemic racism in the United States and the country, and while the prime minister François Legault came to announce the creation of a working group on the issue, Ms. Brochu has confessed, candidly, “do not know” if Hydro-Quebec has a target to increase the representation of visible minorities among its staff.

“There are programs, but I confess to you my ignorance […]. Is there a target ? I don’t know, “she said, conceding that the committee of management of the company is” very white “.

“I arrived in post, this is a great home, Hydro, I don’t have all the numbers in mind. Follow me for a day, you’ll see, ” she justified.

A spokesperson for Hydro-Québec has subsequently corrected the shooting on Twitter.

Last week, an analysis of Radio-Canada revealed that the vast majority of employers in the public sector – including Hydro-Quebec – rate consistently the recruitment targets set by the State. The Hydro is 19 %, while it currently has 8.2% of visible minorities.

The sale of electricity to Ontario and New York always in the plans

The CEO of Hydro-Québec, Sophie Brochu, remains convinced of the ability of the company to sell hydro electricity to Ontario and New York State. And this despite the refusal of the prime minister, Doug Ford and the slowdown of the discussions with the Americans.

“We have neighbours, infrastructure commons, public finances under pressure as never before. It was in all our interests to work together, ” said Ms. Brochu, Monday. “I would be very surprised that Ontario does not want to be part of this ecosystem here. “

Hydro had long wanted to sell electricity to the neighboring province. The hopes are also many on the side of New York, where governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City have renewed their interest in energy in quebec.

But beyond the words, the discussions with the Americans are on the ice due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 and the heated racial tensions.

“This is not a lack of will, it is a question of availability,” said Ms. Brochu, saying it was confident of the recovery of the next discussions.

As to Ontario, the premier, Doug Ford has closed the door to the purchase of electricity in quebec in December. Mr. Ford has yet said again recently that he wanted to invest in the construction of electrical infrastructure-creating jobs in Ontario.

But Ms. Brochu argued that it could sell electricity to ” acting “, while are built, these potential power plants in ontario.

The far abroad will be waiting

One thing is certain, the project of turning international defended by his predecessor, Eric Martel, is put on the back burner.

“We take a step back,” said Ms. Brochu.

This is because, since the announcement of the ” hander international “, in 2015, the context has changed considerably.

“We will make significant investments, but in Quebec. This money, they will invest here before the invest in Peru “, she illustrated.

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