Food self-sufficiency: new electricity rates for greenhouses in the province

Food self-sufficiency: new electricity rates for greenhouses in the province

Taking advantage of the Legault government's desire to increase the number of greenhouses in the province, Hydro-Quebec is trying to lend a hand while seeking to increase its market share.

In July, the state-owned company filed a request with the Régie de l'énergie to improve its tariff offer to greenhouse operators, a traditional request from the industry.

Its request provides for a reduction from $ 0.10 to $ 0.0559 in the average rate per kilowatt hour (kWh), a rate that will henceforth apply to both photosynthetic lighting and greenhouse heating.

Due to previously lower prices, most greenhouses in the province – including many organic farms – still rely primarily on fossil sources, such as natural gas, propane and fuel oil. However, while offering energy efficiency of only 60%, fuel oil is the petroleum derivative that produces the most greenhouse gases, underlines the general manager of the Producers in greenhouse of Quebec, Claude Laniel.

To the greatest number

This preferential rate was already applied to the 10 largest greenhouse operators in Quebec. Hydro-Québec's request seeks to extend this tariff to as many people as possible by lowering its eligibility for producers whose power demand is at least 50 kilowatts (kW). The current threshold is 300 kW.

The president of Hydro-Québec Distribution, Éric Filion, hopes to quickly obtain the green light from the Régie de l'énergie. The latter plans to look into the matter in early November. Everyone is hoping for an answer before the end of December.

“If the proposed 40% reduction in tariffs is accepted by the Régie, more than 1,000 greenhouse producers in Quebec could benefit from clean energy to stimulate their growth,” said Mr. Filion. For a greenhouse with an area of 2000 m2 and a 200 kW installation, the measures proposed could represent savings of $ 30,000 per year.

Also for cannabis

Is this offer only valid for market gardening?

“We're type agnostics. It therefore applies to both vegetable and cannabis producers, ”adds Mr. Fillion.

If greenhouse growers allow themselves to be seduced – which is not guaranteed given the energy transition costs which can be significant – the state-owned company is considering tripling its sales to greenhouse growers. Within 10 years, it expects to sell around 450 GWh more per year, representing additional revenues of $ 30 million per year.

– With Francis Halin

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