Hydro Québec: smarter homes & energy conservation

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

In spring of 2021, 26,855 Quebecers responded to a Hydro Québec (HQ) questionnaire inviting consumers to envision the future of energy saving initiatives and goals.

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

In spring of 2021, 26,855 Quebecers responded to a Hydro Québec (HQ) questionnaire inviting consumers to envision the future of energy saving initiatives and goals.
HQ’s website reports 15,207 ideas emerged where respondents declared support for three goals: sustainable mobility, responsible energy use and green economy. [https://collectiveenergy.ca]
Québecers imagined a future where Québec’s biggest energy polluters contribute to renewable energy transition; the creation of province-wide food security where local farmers produce vegetables and fruits year-round; and where we can drive “anywhere in Québec in electric vehicles that can be charged through a network of ultra-fast charging stations.”
84% of respondents recommended HQ create a reward system for customers who reduce their energy consumption.
Kudos to HQ for reaching out. But did this corporation act?
Yes.
Smarter & smarter grid
HQ’s overall goal is to connect consumers to a smarter grid. Years ago, HQ started replacing old dial-type meters with smart meters that can report your electricity usage in real time. By June 2014, more than 80% of 1.7 million meters comprising the project’s first phase were converted.
Now, through two new initiatives that use capabilities of the smart meters – the Dynamic Winter
Credit Option and Hilo – consumers can directly participate in the corporation’s goal of saving energy used in the grid and receive credits on their bills.
This is great news.
By curtailing our electricity consumption during peak usage times, we can directly participate in this province-wide goal of reducing our power consumption.
How do these initiatives work?
Dynamic winter credit option
The Winter Credit Option enables consumers to earn credits on their hydro bills if they reduce their electrical power usage during anticipated wintertime daily peak periods (6:00-9:00 a.m. and 4:00-8:00 p.m). In other words, credits are not accrued daily; instead, just when HQ predicts there’ll be excessive demand. Participating clients receive an e-mail the day before the Winter Credit Option will be available. If you decide to reduce your electricity usage during these peak demand periods, you will receive a credit. [Full details: hydroquebec.com; Dynamic Winter Pricing Credits: https://bit.ly/3mYEkFY]
The credited savings are displayed in participating HQ customers’ bills (Customer Space). As actual examples, in early January, a participating Shawville couple’s credit was ~$17; a Montreal couple’s was ~$10; and ours was ~$9. By setting thermostats lower and avoiding use of powered appliances (ovens, laundry etc.), consumers can participate in lowering power consumption demands on the grid.
Hilo
For a fee based on your home size, Hilo (a HQ subsidiary) will arrange to replace thermostats, and some plugs and switches in your home with “smart” versions that connect wirelessly to a home hub. You can then control the devices manually or via an app on any smartphone or tablet. Hilo will send a “challenge” notification to your app when a peak period is predicted. For each challenge, you decide whether to participate as “moderate” or “intrepid”. Your home hub manages your devices accordingly — and you’ll be informed about the amount of credit earned after the challenge.
The Hilo hub is compatible with Google Home or Amazon Echo. Check the Hilo website to discover how you can save money on your hydro bills. [https://bit.ly/3q22NvT]
What kinds of savings? “During the first season of challenges, Hilo customers received on average $125 in cash rewards for participating in about 30 challenges. Hilo customers also saved about 15% on their electricity bill—and as much as 20% in some cases.”[https://bit.ly/3F0kVuu]
Kudos to Hydro-Québec for so quickly acting to restore power to Outaouais after the latest weather-related outages (Dec 12-14). And kudos to the corporation for developing smarter technologies to help consumers save on energy consumption – and reduce our bills.
Note:
I’m relieved to return to writing Our Environment after year-long complications from breaking my wrist on December 17, 2020. I’m eager to conduct interviews and discuss issues – from blue-green algae in our waterways to the Chalk River nuclear landfill to clearcutting Outaouais forests. Good-news stories exist too: the protection of biodiversity thanks to ACRE and the Nature Conservancy of Canada; the influx of new, young dedicated food producers to the Outaouais. Have a story? Contact
me: fletcher.katharine@gmail.com