The Canadian province of Quebec recently started construction on a major new hydroelectric project that will cost an estimated $6.5 billion dollars (CAD). The Romaine Hydroelectric Complex will have 1550 MW of capacity and produce 8 terawatt-hours of electricity per year. Consisting of four power plants when completed, it will be able to supply electricity for 450,000 households.
Much of that power could end up in New York state and New England. Hydro-Quebec, the province's public utility, generates over 95% of its electricity from hydropower. It currently exports 21.3 terawatt-hours of electricity per year to Ontario, New York state, and New England, generating over $1.9 billion CAD in revenue for 2008.
Several factors are leading to increased hydroelectricity imports. The Obama administration’s policies on renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions trading, and the shift away from coal power plants means that hydroelectricity becomes more attractive to municipalities. On the other hand, growing power consumption along the eastern seaboard means that new and replacement power generation must be brought online quickly.
The Luther Forest Technology Campus in New York state's Capital Region is expected to require large amounts of power. GlobalFoundries is planning to build its Fab 2 CPU plant there, and GE Transportation will build a new battery plant in the region to support its hybrid-electric vehicle efforts.
Hydroelectricity is a source of constantly available baseload power during the day and night. Baseload power is currently only available from nuclear, coal, natural gas, and hydroelectric sources. Solar and wind power require large amounts of reactionary power from coal and/or natural gas plants to ensure stability in the electrical grid and power supply chain.
Hydroelectric dams usually raise environmental concerns due to flooding needed to create reservoirs for the dams. Over $200 million has already been spent or budgeted on environmental studies, attenuation measures, and environmental monitoring, which is planned to continue until 2040.
Power from the project will be initially available by 2014 and all construction will be completed by 2020.