Here in Quebec, our hydro-electricity is so readily available that we have the cheapest rates in North America. Electricity is abundant, the valleys are already flooded, ecosystems lost ages ago (seriously though: dams are a problem), and the resulting methane production is dwindling. So why would anyone care about how much clean electricity we use? After all, it is the best in Canada (ergo, North America) for GHG emissions. We seem to have done a few things right, no?

Well, yes, but wait. As more people move to the cities [when they should really be moving (back) to the regions], efficiency increases the perception of abundance, and the draw on the power grid increases. The cities are not doing enough, yet, for themselves to keep the demand steady-or-less, or supply more of their own. Until businesses, municipalities, and utilities develop a local private/community power model, that electricity must come from somewhere. HydroQuébec doesn’t have many, or even any, incentive programs to help people switch to off-grid electricity generation, though, unbeknownst to many, it finally established a net metering option for self-generators to feed power back in to the grid. That will help a bit.

“During cold periods, consume wisely.” So unplug unneeded devices, put the dishwasher and laundry on timed delay, and program your thermostats!

Elsewhere, many utilities practice load-balancing: timing periods of demand by offering consumers preferred rates, after businesses close down for the evening and overnight (when one can run the dishwasher, laundry, bathe and shower, and charge electronics). HydroQuébec doesn’t do this, either. And yet meeting future peak demand is why they want to develop new sources.

The kicker is, cheap electricity is practically designed for waste.

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