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Quebecers need to make major cuts to their electricity consumption: expert


Quebec is lagging behind when it comes to energy efficiency in our homes, and there are calls to change that.

With 24 solar panels on his roof, Jose Legris is on his way to becoming energy-independent, and his home is considered to be net zero.

Unfortunately, his situation is not the norm.

"Because we have so much energy, it's cheap," said HEC professor Pierre-Olivier Pineau. "So basically we just consume without asking ourselves questions."

Pineau says Quebecers need to make major cuts to their consumption.

"We are around 200 gigajoules per year per person," he said. "In Europe they are between 100 and 150 gigajoules per person. And so that's around 25 to 50 per cent less than our consumption level in Europe with equivalent standards of living."

Others are also calling for Quebec to prioritize energy efficiency.

"Rather than upping supply, you can down demand," said Emmanuel Cosgrove, director of the non-profit Eco Home.

Eco Home helps make homes more energy efficient. If homeowners reduce energy consumption, Cosgrove said, Quebec won't have to spend millions building new energy infrastructure.

"We're just saying, can't we just look at the most cost-effective measures for us to cope with peak and overall energy consumption of the province," said Cosgrove.

Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon has been critical of Quebecers' consumption habits, and Hydro-Quebec says energy consumption will continue to increase, which is a major concern, particularly during peak hours.

"This is 6 to 9 in the morning [and] between 4 and 8 p.m.," said Hydro-Quebec spokesperson Cendrix Bouchard. "At the end of the day when everybody tends to use electricity at the same time."

The crown corporation does have incentive programs to improve residential energy efficiency, and Hydro-Quebec said its rate increase will remain at three per cent.

Pineau doesn't see how that's possible, considering Hydro's ambitious 2035 plan.

"It's not possible when you look at the amount of investment Hydro-Quebec wants to make," he said. "You can't just pay for that investment with a three per cent rate increase in residential rates so that we'll have to change."

He added that Quebecers can decrease their energy consumption while enjoying the same lifestyle as the province continues to examine how it can increase its energy supply. Top Stories

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