Natural gas will still play a role as Quebec seeks to decarbonize home heating

Although a legislated drilling ban is preventing production, natural gas will remain a mainstay of Quebec consumption through 2030 under a “dual-energy” program that includes a subsidy for households that add from electric heaters to their fossil fuel furnaces.

With the support of the provincial government, gas distributor Energir LP and electricity supplier Hydro-Quebec won approval for the hybrid home and building heating service from the utility regulator this spring. Energy management.

When utilities began recruiting residential dual-energy customers this month, the government announced an initial grant commitment of C$158 million ($126 million) to cover their costs of switching gear. heating source.

“It’s a way to use the right source of energy at the right time and at the lowest possible cost,” said an announcement made by government ministers and utility company executives at a popular aquarium which successfully tested the equipment.

The dual-energy program is part of a Quebec greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction policy entitled Plan 2030 for a green economy. The policy calls for a 50% reduction in emissions by the end of this decade and full carbon neutrality from 2050.

“This solution will go a long way towards electrifying building heating and reducing GHG emissions. . . while avoiding an increase in electricity demand during peak periods when natural gas will be used instead,” the announcement reads.

While global fossil fuel price inflation currently makes electric heating competitive, the dual-energy program sets targets of 100,000 conversions, or nearly one-fifth of Energir’s 535,000 customers, and a reduction of 70 % of gas consumption by converts.

The expected environmental outcome of achieving the conversion target would be an annual reduction in GHG emissions of 540,000 tonnes, which is estimated to be equivalent to eliminating 125,000 fossil-fuel powered vehicles.

The dual-energy program would also relieve predicted pressure on government-owned Hydro-Quebec that is expected to be generated by another aspect of the new French-Canadian green pact: the mandatory switch to electric vehicles.

The Montreal Economic Institute calculates that recharging the batteries of the 5.4 million personal vehicles and 823,000 trucks on the roads of the province would drain the surplus electricity from Hydro-Québec intended to increase exports to the States -United.

Similar calculations aroused opposition before the Management against the dual-energy program by six environmental groups: Quebec Hydrocarbon Vigilance GroupGreenpeace Canada, Nature Quebec, Fondation Coule pas chez nous, Equiterre and Let’s get the Crate out of the carbon.

The groups estimated that the compensation for lost gas distribution volume by Energir that Hydro-Quebec would obtain with electricity rate hikes and heat supply conversion expenses could cost consumers $7.2 billion. Canadian dollars ($5.8 billion) by 2050.

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A parallel protest lawsuit filed June 22 against Quebec’s gas drilling ban highlights other losses seen by critics of the provincial green plan. The Montreal company Utica Resources Inc. is claiming damages of 18 billion Canadian dollars ($14.4 billion) for “this disguised expropriation”.

Proponents of the dual-energy program dismissed their environmental opponents, countering that allowing continued use of gas makes Quebec’s C$1.7 billion ($1.4 billion) reduction in GHG emissions from heating cheaper than complete conversion to electrical equipment.

A government compensation offer that accompanied the enactment of the Quebec drilling ban in April limits total payments to C$100 million ($80 million) to cover five companies’ exploration expenses since 2025 and the costs of sealing and recovering their wells.

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