It’s called schadenfreude, the satisfaction you get from someone else’s misfortune. Some Albertans may be feeling it this week after the referendum in Maine that rejected a Hydro-Québec transmission line through their state.

Projected to generate $10 billion US for Hydro-Québec over 20 years, the project, known as the New England Clean Energy Corridor, would cut a 233-kilometre path through northern Maine, increasing the company’s energy exports to the U.S. by a third.

After a vigorous campaign, a collection of environmentalists and fossil fuel interests (the main competitors of hydro power), cheered on by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, defeated the proposal 60-40. The opposition was founded in fear of damage to Maine forests compounded by resentment against “foreign corporations.” Hydro-Québec’s partner in the project is a Spanish-owned company that bought out the local utility in 2007.

For years, Albertans have bridled at Quebec’s resistance to proposed oil projects such as the Energy East pipeline which was intended to carry crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries and ports in New Brunswick and Quebec. So resistance to the export of Quebec energy may offer a certain smug satisfaction to at least some Albertans. Schadenfreude in action.

The situations are not quite comparable however. Resistance to oil pipelines is part of the struggle to reduce greenhouse gasses. Halting the Hydro-Québec project, on the other hand, will result in more greenhouse gasses, not fewer. According to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, the project would reduce emissions by up to 3.6 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of removing about 700,000 cars from the road. To the voters of Maine that apparently doesn’t justify cutting a path through their forests.

Whether or not the project goes ahead will ultimately be up to the courts or the government of Maine. Although the government has supported the line to date, in light of the referendum its prospects are now dim.

One thought on “Schadenfreude, Hydro-Québec and the Maine referendum”
  1. I cannot work out what in the hell is going through American minds at the moment, but liquid BS seems to encompass it, whether Dem or Repug. The place is clean run out of logic or horse-sense. Offer ’em a real greenpower deal and they don’t want it.

    Nova Scotia Power owned a good portion of Maine’s transmission and retail electricity trade for a while, but flogged it off several years ago. Smart move when faced with xenophobia. With the navel-gazing inward-looking attitude that constitutes America at this juncture (rather like Alberta in my view), wherein nobody but themselves rates any importance, the “hate” on for foreign companies is just one aspect of US craziness.

    If it makes Albertan hearts all warm and fuzzy at the thought that Quebec has been skewered in a manner not dissimilar to the way they feel they have been over Keystone XL, well, eat it up for now. Spare a thought for NL who would have done well out of their natural resources if they had not been led by a man who thought he knew everything back in ’69, but who obviously did not. It seems to me that Alberta is currently led by a similar sort of complete dope, a man who’d hand away tarsands and coal for a penny a ton to anyone with a shovel just to bask in the glow of being acclaimed by those with a similar blinkered outlook. This time, however, the climate crisis is becoming real even to deniers with a sense of smell for wildfire smoke, to which by contrast Churchill Falls Hydro has contributed zilch. All the bluster, general nonsense, and lack of worldview is likely to “get” Alberta for digging up the world’s dirtiest petroleum while officially pretending it’s fancy champagne produced under the world’s strictest environmental standards. As if. The settling ponds, lakes really, point to the abject nonsense of that assertion as just one example.

    Like the unvaccinated who care not a whit about their neighbours but only their perceived “rights”, Alberta Inc thumbs its nose at Canada and the world on GHG emissions and pollution. This abject nonsense is unlikely to last long as investment dries up. I’m sure Mark Carney is a swear-word at UCP headquarters. Not that Greta Thunberg thinks much of him either, labelling his efforts as “greenwashing”.

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