Quebec's Energy Minister, Pierre Fitzgibbon, expressed his support on Monday for Hydro-Québec's recent decision to explore the possibility of reactivating the province's sole nuclear power facility.
The Minister's comments came following the announcement by Hydro-Québec that they are considering restarting the Gentilly-2 reactor in Bécancour, Quebec, in response to the rising energy demands. Speaking in Montreal, Fitzgibbon emphasized the province's transition away from fossil fuels and highlighted the importance of investigating all alternative energy options.
He stressed that dismissing nuclear energy without due consideration would be "irresponsible." He further added that for any new energy projects to be undertaken, they should align with social acceptability and economic viability.
Hydro-Québec, under the leadership of its new CEO, Michael Sabia, has stated its willingness to remain open-minded about nuclear energy. The company's plan includes assessing the current state of the plant, helping to guide decisions about the future energy resources of Quebec.
However, Hydro-Québec's statement has been met with skepticism from environmental advocates like Greenpeace Canada and various opposition leaders, urging the provincial government to initiate a comprehensive dialogue on Quebec's energy roadmap.
Recalling past decisions, in 2012, the Gentilly-2 reactor, situated on the St. Lawrence River's south bank, was shut down. This decision was influenced partly by the hefty expenses involved in the plant's upgrade, which had its inaugural operations in 1983.
However, the province's energy dynamics have shifted over the years. Warnings have come from Fitzgibbon and other authorities about the rising electricity demands from corporate entities aiming to kickstart industrial ventures, surpassing Hydro-Québec's existing capabilities.
Fitzgibbon hinted at a need for Quebec residents to trim their energy usage, though specific strategies for achieving this have yet to be revealed.
Addressing the existing disparity between energy supply and demand in the region, Fitzgibbon shared Sabia's viewpoint on the situation, saying, "Sabia believes we must evaluate available energy resources, including nuclear. However, a final decision, be it from Hydro-Québec or the government, is yet to be made."
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