Premier Jean Charest wants to export Quebec’s hydroelectricity to neighbouring New York and New York is interested.
Charest told a business audience in New York City Friday the province has clean and renewable energy for sale. Gov. Eliot Spitzer also met with Charest and said he was impressed by the “enormous potential” of Quebec’s energy plan, an asset he said the state would tap increasingly given ever-growing energy needs.
Charest said in an interview that Spitzer had told him the governor had asked his staff to develop an aggressive strategy quickly to investigate the possibility of buying more power from Quebec.
The premier said he was impressed with Spitzer, who has only been in office a few months, and said he is “very well informed on the issues.”
The two men plan to meet again in May.
A number of other issues, such as climate change, security, passports and barriers to trade and labour mobility, were also on the agenda but energy was the priority.
It was Charest’s fourth visit to New York City since he became premier in 2003, and he was accompanied by Hydro-Quebec president Thierry Vandal.
Charest was not there to sign deals but to maintain and give fresh impetus to the Quebec-New York relationship which saw more than $10 billion in trade last year.
Quebec sold more than $300 million in electricity to New York last year, about one-third of Hydro-Quebec’s total exports.
Charest told the business audience of about 400 people that Quebec has an aggressive energy development plan.
“We want to sell clean and renewable energy to our American neighbors,” Charest said in his 20-minute speech which focused on economic growth through the sale of energy.
“This is the goal that we are pursuing in activating this economic engine, energy, for all of Quebec,” he added.
He noted that energy is “the heart of the relationship” between Quebec and New York state.
Economic growth must go hand in hand with open markets, he said.
Charest pointed out that his government had put $31 billion toward the “very aggressive” development of energy resources.
In a news conference, Charest said he favours a carbon exchange that would first include Canadian companies but later include all North American companies.
He would also like to see increased mobility of workers and a less burdensome alternative to the use of passports for cross-border travel given the importance of trade between Quebec and New York.
By Jocelyne Richer
The Canadian Press
12 October 2007
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