Québec's first hydroelectric-generating stations were built by private entrepreneurs at the end of the last century. In 1903 N America's first long high-voltage transmission line was placed in service. The 50 kV line ran 135 km from the Shawinigan powerhouse to Montréal. Although the new industry attracted many entrepreneurs, regional monopolies soon dominated the market. Responding to public criticism of poor service and high rates, the Québec government expropriated Montreal Light, Heat and Power Consolidated and its subsidiary, Beauharnois Light, Heat and Power Co, and empowered the Québec Hydro-Electric Commission to administer these 2 companies. Thus, Hydro-Québec was born on 14 Apr 1944.
On 1 May 1963 Hydro-Québec extended its activities to cover the whole province. It purchased the shares of nearly all remaining privately owned electrical utilities then operating in Québec and took over their debts. The total amount involved was $600 million. Hydro-Québec subsequently undertook construction of the Manic-Outardes hydroelectric complex. The project's Daniel Johnson dam is the world's largest arch-and-buttress dam; its Manic 2 is the largest hollow-joint gravity dam. In order to transmit the complex's annual production of about 30 billion kWh over a distance of nearly 700 km, Hydro-Québec had to innovate. It became the first utility in the world to transmit electricity at 735 kV. Since then, its research institute, created in 1967, has pursued intensive research in electric-power transmission. In the early 1970s Hydro-Québec embarked on the JAMES BAY PROJECT. Completed in 1986, James Bay's LG-2, LG-3 and LG-4 power stations added 10 282 MW to Hydro-Québec's generating capacity. In Dec 1987, Hydro-Québec signed its first long-term sales contract, with Vermont Joint Owners, to export surplus electricity to the United States.
Author ANDRÉ BOLDUC
Links to Other Sites
A glossary of key terms related to hydroelectricity. From the website "Balance of Power," Virtual Museum of Canada.
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