Despite generating virtually all of its power from hydro electricity, Quebec is tripling down on wind power while doubling the capacity of its already impressive power grid by 2050 to offset fossil fuels in other sectors of its economy.Crown-owned Hydro-Québec — Canada’s largest electricity producer — will spend up to $185 billion by 2035 to ramp up production, boost efficiency and reduce power outages by 35% CEO Michael Sabia said in Montreal on Thursday.At around $16 billion per year, the capital budget is about four times bigger than its average annual outlay.“We are trying to address real environmental needs that are pressing. By doing so, we’re also trying to increase the competitive position of Quebec in a world where low carbon production is going to be the real determinant of success,” he said..While new dams will be needed, there are no plans to pursue nuclear energy the company said. Dams are controversial because they need First Nations‘ support that in the past has proven difficult to obtain.Included in the plan are some 5,000 kilometres of transmission lines and vague provisions for battery storage. The company expects to hire 35,000 people per year to meet the targets.The big jump in capacity is required because a controversial power-sharing agreement that supplies 15% of the province’s electricity at deeply discounted rates from Newfoundland and Labrador at Churchill Falls expires in 2041. Newfoundland has long complained the deal, signed in 1969, has subsidized La Belle to the tune of tens of billions of dollars and has twice tried to have the contract nullified in court, to no avail. Premier Andrew Furey has refused to renegotiate it on such lopsided terms..Hydro-Québec‘s plans are part of the provincial government’s drive to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Although 95% of its power is already renewable, more than half of the primary energy consumed in the province for manufacturing, transportation and home heating comes from fossil fuels. It’s expecting a much higher load from the proliferation of electric cars and the retirement of gas powered appliances and furnaces in residential buildings. Last week Montreal because the first city in the province to make it mandatory.Despite the massive spending levels, Sabia — who was previously Chrystia Freeland’s deputy finance minister in Ottawa before joining Hydro-Québec last May — vowed rates will remain “affordable” over the near and long term. That’s because residential rates will be capped to the rate of inflation or a maximum of 3%.Predictably, the Canadian Renewable Energy Association was delighted with the news. "The renewable energy sector is ready to meet this challenge. Quebec needs to increase renewable energy deployment to meet its climate objectives between now and 2034 and Hydro-Québec is seizing a window of opportunity offered by the new investment tax credits for renewable energy production that were announced in the 2023 federal budget,” said Jean Habel, the group’s director for Quebec and Atlantic Canada.