United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Showcasing Sustainable Hydropower Development
The Bersimis Complex Case
Mr / Ms Chair,
Hydro-Québec is a government corporation whose mandate is to provide electricity to all
Québec residents. With an installed capacity of over 36,000 MW of hydropower and a
commitment to purchase some 3,500 MW of wind power, Hydro-Québec has become the
largest per capita supplier of renewable energy in the world, while maintaining some of
the lowest rates in North America.
The Bersimis hydroelectric complex comprises two jointly operated power houses,
Bersimis-1, a power station of 1 125MW including a 42 km2 reservoir and Bersimis-2, a
845 MW run-of-river power station which were built between 1953 and 1959. At the
beginning of 2000, the project's electricity production has been substantially increased by
825 GWh, thanks to the partial diversion of three rivers.
The Bersimis complex is an example of how the concept of sustainable development was
successfully incorporated into the very culture of Hydro-Québec. Our company
introduced measures and adapted its ways to constantly improve its practices in the areas
of environmental protection and stakeholder involvement.
Today, the utility is certified ISO 14001 and has benefit sharing agreements with local
communities. A corporate policy ensures that all our projects and activities are
environmentally sound, well received by the communities and economically profitable.
Moreover, the Bersimis complex meets internationally recognized sustainability
standards such as the International Hydropower Association's Sustainability Guidelines
and Assessment Protocols.
According to these sustainability standards, the Bersimis complex highlights current good
practices in several areas such as:
- Capitalizing on domestic energy supply, offering hence more independence from
fluctuating oil and gas prices;
- Optimizing the utilisation of existing infrastructure
- Better integration of other renewables which are of intermittent na ture
- Fostering regional development through partnerships with communities
- Local project acceptance through stakeholder involvement and ongoing dialogue
- Joint initiatives to protect highly valued resources
- Continuous collaboration with indigenous people
The main obstacles to a project like Bersimis are due to a current lack of a balanced level
playing field among all energy options and concern
· the length of the approval process for hydropower projects which are
much longer than that of other forms of energy generation,
· the need to maintain project costs within budget to ensure low electricity
rates for domestic customers.
Hydro-Québec has demonstrated its commitment, and the one of the hydropower industry,
to sustainable development through improvements in its practices so that the Bersimis
complex can now be cited as a model of sustainable management.
The key to sustainable project management is a policy of transparency which allows for
continuous communications and partnership development with local communities. This is
essential to maintain links with and between all stakeholders, while ensur ing local
economic benefits.
More than 50 years of acquired knowledge enables us today to provide renewable energy
by minimizing negative effects and by optimizing positive outcomes, since all our
projects and activities must all be environmentally sound, well received by the local
population and economically profitable.
Thank you Mr / Ms Chair