Perlimpinpin powder and Hydro-Quebec
The thorny file of the famous overpayments of Hydro-Quebec is not closed for the Legault government. He may come back to annoy him. And for good reason: there is a little perfume powder, prestidigitation, in the bill on rates Hydro-Quebec presented in June.
The study of the legislative proposal will take place this autumn, which will bring the ghost of overpayments to the forefront of the news.
The Quebec Liberal Party, Quebec Solidaire and the Parti Québécois will ally themselves in the coming parliamentary commission, as they have done for months – and passionately – to the four-year-old kindergarten.
The study of Minister Jonatan Julien’s project will be the opportunity, once again, to note that the government is calling for a leap of faith by claiming that Hydro-Québec’s subscribers will save some $ 1.5 billion over the next year. the next five years thanks to his intervention – which would in some way offset the overpayments that the Coalition avenir Québec was denouncing when it was in opposition.
$ 1.5 billion?
On Wednesday, a study by the Socio-economic Research and Information Institute, ranked “left”, added its voice to the group of skeptics, which was already quite broad and came from many horizons. The energy analyst, Jean-François Blain, participated.
A reminder: the government proposal is based, among other things, on the rebate next year by Hydro-Québec of $ 500 million to its customers.
However, these dollars, consisting of the balance of the “difference accounts”, would have ended up being returned to consumers anyway. Minister Jonatan Julien has recognized it himself in recent hours.
Another part of the legislative project provides for a tariff freeze for 2020, followed by a “limited” tariff indexation to the rate of inflation for the next four years. The government calculates that this part of its plan will save consumers $ 1 billion.
However, nothing says that the Régie de l’énergie has not allowed increases below inflation. She has done it in recent years.
Ultimately, the government’s operation could theoretically – let’s remain conditional for the time being – result in some compensation for the overpayments. But to believe that it will amount to $ 1.5 billion or that nothing would have been paid to consumers without it is a pipe dream.
After defending for months the fact that the “additional profits” of Hydro-Quebec are not returned to its subscribers, the government turned around in late spring with the introduction of the bill to “simplify the process of setting electricity distribution rates “.
The opposition parties have been heating it for months. A Léger poll published in the Quebecor media ended in the spring, to convince him that he had to do something. More than 90% of Quebeckers demanded the return of overpayments.
But this something does not convince.
Nevertheless, and because the government team will support it, the difficulties it will still face with this file will be less than those it experienced the day after coming to power and for months. In the political game, nothing is worse than having nothing to say or having nothing to oppose to his opponents.