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President and CEO Sophie Brochue will step down as president of Hydro-Québec in April

After only three years in office, Sophie Brochud will leave the presidency of Hydro-Québec in April. The president and chief executive’s decision is part of a tense context: her vision of the Crown’s future differed widely from that held by the government. During her short tenure, she nonetheless had time to position Hydro-Québec as the locomotive for the energy transition.

“I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work for the advancement of our great state-owned company, together with a competent and committed team,” the principal interested party said Tuesday morning, in a press release. Access to the head of the public company in April 2020in the midst of a pandemic, for five years.

The reason for his departure is not specified, and in the near future MI Brochu is not engaging in any new professional adventure. “It’s time to pass the torch,” she said in a press release, noting that Hydro-Québec is now in “good shape” and that “the company’s financial condition is excellent.”

In an interview with Radio Canada on Tuesday, A.I Brochu insisted her departure was “not a political decision” and that she was happy with her discussions with the government. “There is—and it’s a very healthy, necessary thing—a certain tension, normal, between government and Hydro-Québec. And if it’s not like that, frankly, it’s because we won’t have a pulse in our veins, we’ll die.”

MI Thus Brochu will leave his place to the leader who will be most at ease in embodying the company’s strategic plan, a plan of which he claims rather to be the “architect”.

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The complex relations between Quebec and Hydro

The relationship between M.I Brochu and the Quebec government have proven stormy in recent months. In October, she said she did not want to change the province The “Dollarama” for low-cost energy for foreign companies. According to information from Journalism Published at the time, MI Brochu would not hesitate to leave Hydro-Québec if the state company found itself subordinate to the requirements of the province’s economic development.

“As long as the governance framework within the Hydro-Québec government is sound and we are able to assert key concessions for the energy system needs, I will be there,” said Ms.I Paperback in October at 98.5 FM. But if I see, for one reason or another, that this system is in danger, well, I will have serious discussions with my shareholders. »

As a result of this controversy, PM Legault created a new “Committee on the Economy and Energy Transition.” In order to coordinate government action in this field. A group of ministers is part of it, including Pierre Fitzgibbon (economics, innovation and energy), as well as M.I Published. The committee met only once, in December. The Senior Hydro-Quebec Chief announced Tuesday that he has “confidence” in this mechanism put in place by the Prime Minister.

Even before the CEO’s resignation was announced, the coming year was set to be a complex one for Hydro-Québec and the government. Minister Fitzgibbon He promised a “robust” bill to regulate energy-intensive behaviour clients. This law could upset the pricing structure of a public company.

Tuesday morning, Premier of Quebec, Francois Legaultshaded in tweet the “pleasure” he had working with mr.I Brochu on “major projects”, such as holding hydroelectric power sales in New York and developing the wind power sector. on the opposition side, Quebec Solidarity It is considered that the departure of MI Brochu is “worrying” and the Liberal Party is calling for “transparency” in the process of appointing a successor to the head of Hydro-Quebec.

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“I suspect that government intervention ended up making MI Uncomfortable brochure,” notes Jean-Pierre Figny, analyst at Regrouping Environmental Organizations in the energy field. A recent example of such interference was, according to Mr. Venier, the last-minute suspension, in December, of calls for bids for renewable energy.

active transformation

The past few months have also seen renewed interest from the government To build hydroelectric power stations. In an internal message sent Tuesday morning to Hydro-Québec employees, I got it dutyMI Brochu specifies that “in terms of energy transition, the possibilities for Quebecers are numerous.” “It will all be a matter of choice,” she adds.

Without explicitly indicating the major production projects that Hydro-Québec will have to launch to increase its capacity, MI Brochu wrote that it would be necessary to work “in concert with the communities concerned” to assess “the sites that offer the best potential for hydroelectric development.”

Once at Cape Hydro-Québec, Sophie Brochu has made her mark. Founded for the first time New strategic plan To meet the challenges of the energy transition. After years of surpluses, this plan mentioned the risks of electricity shortages during peak periods, during the bitter cold of winter, starting in 2027.

At the same time, his team has begun a major restructuring of the organization to gain more flexibility. In 2022, Hydro-Québec will merge its three main divisions – distribution, production and transportation – into a single entity, which until then had developed independently of each other. It should be the Hilo affiliate, too Partially repatriated.

I suspect that government intervention ended up making Mrs. Brochu uncomfortable

said Roger Lanoi, an energy consultant and former vice president of Hydro-Québec. “From his point of view, betting on decarbonization represents a golden opportunity. Government beliefs Quebec Future Alliance, in this regard, looks somewhat superficial. »

Prior to leading Hydro-Québec, Mr.I Brochu worked for Énergir (formerly Metro Gas), the major distributor of gas in Quebec. It was its title sponsor from 2007 until the end of 2019. In 2021, Énergir and Hydro-Québec sign an important partnership on Dual energy, electricity and natural gas to keep warm.

Hydro-Québec’s Board of Directors may recommend candidates for the position of CEO, but the appointment of the next incumbent must be decided by the Cabinet. Previous CEOs of Hydro-Québec, each of whom have been in office longer, are Eric Martel (2015-2020), Thierry Vandal (2005-2015) and Andre Cayley (1996-2005).

With Ulysses Bergeron

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