http://www.canada.com/montreal/montrealgazette/story.asp?id=0F2A0CAD-E60B-4A 41-B767-49BB05AB2446 Greenpeace, Hydro at odds over gas-fired power plant Utility says natural-gas prices will drop while Conference Board projects increases MIKE DE SOUZA and KEVIN DOUGHERTY The Gazette, Thursday, March 11, 2004 Hydro-Québec's justification for the proposed Suroît natural-gas-fired plant in Beauharnois is falling apart, the Greenpeace environmental lobby group said yesterday. Greenpeace's Steven Guilbeault said he is suspicious of the publicly owned power utility's forecasts that natural-gas prices will drop over the next eight years, making the controversial project appear more profitable. "I don't know if they're doing it intentionally. ... All I can say is that their projections go against everything I've seen," Guilbeault told reporters on the opening day of hearings before the province's energy board, the Régie de l'énergie. The government asked the Régie to review the project after a storm of protest from environmentalists, consumer advocates and local nuns. But Hydro-Québec spokesperson Marc-Brian Chamberland laughed at Guilbeault's comments, noting the methodology used to generate forecasts dates back at least 15 years and is accepted by the energy board. He said Hydro-Québec would release figures backing up its forecasts today, although he added it would use independent forecasts for the Suroît project. In a report released yesterday, the Conference Board of Canada also projects a steady rise in natural-gas prices over the next few years. Danielle Lapointe, Hydro's director of planning for its distribution division, said its overall projections would be updated this fall. She acknowledged the forecasts could change. The admission was a surprise to the Union des consommateurs. "It's funny that it's coming up now," said Manon Lacharité. "It's not something we hear often from Hydro-Québec." Guilbeault went a step further with his criticism. "They should be in a position to answer these questions clearly," he said. "If (their) hypothesis is wrong, the government simply needs to cancel Suroît." In Quebec City, Natural Resources Minister Sam Hamad agreed with environmentalists who said Hydro needs to step up its energy-efficiency efforts. The government announced yesterday it plans to hold its own parliamentary committee hearings in the fall on Quebec's energy security situation. But it will decide the future of the $550-million Suroît project this summer after reviewing recommendations by the energy board. At the start of hearings, officials from the energy board said its mandate hasn't changed despite the government's decision to hold hearings. Lacharité said she welcomed the chance to be heard by elected officials, but is worried they won't respond to their concerns. Critics warn the Suroît plant could generate greenhouse gases equivalent to 600,000 cars. Citizens have until March 16 to submit written questions to the Régie for Hydro to answer. The Régie's Web site is at www.regie-energie.qc.ca firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com ============================== http://www.cyberpresse.ca/politique/article/1,153,1925,032004,609102.shtml Le jeudi 11 mars 2004 Dossier du Suroît Sam Hamad change encore d'avis Presse Canadienne Québec Le ministre des Ressources naturelles, Sam Hamad, a effectué jeudi un autre virage à 180 degrés dans le dossier du Suroît. Contrairement à ce qu'il avait indiqué la veille, il a affirmé jeudi que la décision d'aller ou non de l'avant avec le projet de centrale thermique serait prise après la commission parlementaire de l'automne sur l'avenir énergétique du Québec. De plus, le ministre Hamad a également annoncé la tenue d'une commission parlementaire pour analyser l'avis que la Régie de l'énergie doit déposer sur le projet du Suroît d'ici le 30 juin. Le ministre n'en est pas à un virage près dans ce dossier. À la suite du tollé soulevé dans la population et chez les groupes écologistes par la décision de donner le feu vert au Suroît sans aucune consultation, le ministre avait justifié l'attitude du gouvernement, le 5 février, en disant qu'on «ne pouvait pas plaire à tout le monde» et qu'il n'était pas question de reculer dans ce dossier.