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PFR will be able to sell electricity to Hydro -Quebec during peak periods this winter

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The Jim-Gray power station is located on the river Shipshaw.

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Resolute Forest Products (PFR) will be able to sell to Hydro-Québec up to 60 megawatts (MW) of its electricity production from its dams which is intended for its Kénogami and Alma paper mills, during peak periods this winter.

Quebec announced Wednesday that an agreement had been reached between PFR, which is owned by the company Paper Excellence, and Hydro-Québec.

Hydro-Québec approached PFR to conclude this agreement, indicated company spokesperson Louis Bouchard.

It will free up energy during peak winter consumption, when needs are increasingly important in the province.

This is a first agreement of its kind for the Kénogami and Alma paper mills. They are powered by PFR's five hydroelectric power stations on the Shipshaw River, which have a production capacity of just over 145 MW.

LoadingThe first Common Front union to vote recommends accepting the agreement in principle

ELSEWHERE ON INFO: The first Common Front union to vote recommends accepting the agreement in principle

The current agreement only concerns the winter period current and it will end on March 31, at the end of the peak period.

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The Kénogami Resolute Forest Products Factory in Jonquière

The Operations of the two factories will be modulated for a few hours, when the company receives a request from the state company. However, no cessation of operations is envisaged.

This does not lead to a cessation of operations in our factories. So, there is no layoff or production stoppage related to that, assured Mr. Bouchard. Obviously, we have the capacity to store dough and modulate our operations to be able to stop the production of thermomechanical dough, he added.

Louis Bouchard could not specify the revenue expected from this sale of electricity to Hydro-Québec, which will vary depending on demand.

A decree had to be adopted by the council of ministers to allow this agreement and modify the lease of the Shipshaw River. This modification allows PFR to sell electricity to Hydro-Québec, while the production of the dams can normally only be used to power its two plants in Kénogami and Alma.

The terms of the lease are defined in Bill 50, which was adopted in 2020 with a view to renewing the lease in January 2022.

The presidents unions affiliated with the CSN from the two plants said they had no fears about the application of the agreement with Hydro-Québec this winter.

The president of the Alma Pulp and Paper Workers' Union, Jean-Pierre Rivard, however, fears the impact that the renewal of such an agreement could have on jobs, during periods when order books are less filled.

We all know that paper is not in arrow, it doesn't skyrocket. What prevents, in a year, more than 60 MW, then we close the factories for a month, then we sell power?

A quote from Jean-Pierre Rivard, president of the Alma Pulp and Paper Workers Union

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Jean-Pierre Rivard is president of the National Union of Pulp and Paper Workers at the Resolute Forest Products plant in Alma.

The President from the National Union of Pulp and Paper Workers of Kénogami, Gilles Vaillancourt, shares this concern. He would have liked the agreement to be accompanied by job protection.

What I like least about the project, what I would have liked, is for our jobs to be protected while there are shutdowns, so that they don't take advantage of them while there are production stoppages, orders are lower, then we are at home without working, he mentioned.

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Gilles Vaillancourt is the president of the National Union of Pulp and Paper Workers of Kénogami.

The company's spokesperson, Louis Bouchard, for his part assured that production stoppages remain solely linked to market conditions. The program we are talking about today, therefore the sale of energy, is something which is a separate file, he indicated.

No shutdown of operations is planned in the short term in the two factories, it was indicated by both the unions and PFR. Operations at the Kénogami factory were temporarily suspended during the holidays due to reduced demand for paper. In Alma, operations have been running normally since the resumption following the lockout which ended in September.

Union representatives from the factories Kénogami and d'Alma will also meet next week with the minister responsible for Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Andrée Laforest, to express their fears about the future of the dams belonging to PFR.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Unions remain concerned that the company intends to sell some of its dams, as they raised at a press briefing in December.

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Andrée Laforest is Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Louis Bouchard affirms for his part that discussions are underway on several energy issues with Quebec. I don't know where that idea came from. We are having discussions with the government about several projects. We had discussions about energy, he mentioned, citing the agreement concluded with Hydro-Québec as an example.

However, he refuses to speak more precisely about the company's intentions regarding its dams.

For the moment, we are under lease. The Hydro-Saguenay complex supplies the two plants in Kénogami and Alma and I also think that we were able to address this question with the unions and then I think that it should be resolved too, he added.

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