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Hydro-Québec has the means to reduce its expenses, believes Pierre Fitzgibbon

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Hydro-Québec has promised to invest $45 to $50 billion to improve the reliability of its network.

The Canadian Press

Even if it must plan billions of dollars of investments to reduce the number of outages and increase its production, Hydro-Québec is able to reduce certain expenses in order to contribute to returning to a balanced budget, believes the Minister of Energy ;Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon.

There is always a way, I think, to reduce, and that is true everywhere in government, replied the minister in a press scrum in Montreal on Monday, as part of an event organized by Propulsion Montréal.

The budgetary effort requested would not jeopardize the investments planned by the state company.

It is certain that at Hydro-Québec, considering the need to spend on vegetation [cutting and pruning trees that risk creating an outage], for maintaining energy security, for new projects, we are not going to put that in danger.

A quote from Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy and Energy

Earlier Monday, Finance Minister Eric Girard also assured that the requested budgetary effort would not have an impact on the infrastructure investments that the state company must make. to increase its production capacity.

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Clearly, for Hydro-Québec, it is not There will be no savings in terms of capital expenditure, said the minister in a press scrum on the sidelines of a speech to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

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Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy (Archive photo)

State corporations will have to release the equivalent of $1 billion over four years in spending reductions in order to contribute to returning to budget balance. The request targets Hydro-Québec, Loto-Québec, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) and Investissement Québec.

They will have to make savings from the 2025-2026 financial year. Annual savings are expected to reach $400 million in 2028-29.

The budgetary effort comes at a time when Hydro-Québec has set itself the objective of investing nearly 100 billion dollars to increase network capacity by 2035, according to its action plan unveiled in November. Added to this are investments of $45 to $50 billion to improve network reliability.

Hydro-Québec wants to reduce the number of outages by 35% within 7 to 10 years, at a time when unfavorable weather conditions have led to an increase in the number of outages.

The budgetary exercise is very commendable in a context where Quebec must return to budget balance, believes Mr. Fitzgibbon. I think that Mr. Girard, rightly, wanted to have an approach to show the rating agencies that we had a critical path to reducing deficits.

The Legault government has not defined the changes that Hydro-Québec would be able to provide. Mr. Fitzgibbon mentioned administrative services as a possible avenue, but added that he does not yet have the details.

It will be up to Hydro-Québec to determine the areas where it can reduce its expenses, said Mr. Girard. The answer will come from Hydro-Québec when we sit down with [its representatives] to discuss. We want efforts, then they will tell us where they can make these efforts.

He recalled that Hydro-Québec would have time to analyze these avenues since no changes are planned for this year. We have not included 2024-2025 revenues because there will be discussions with state corporations and their boards of directors.

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