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Hydro-Québec headquarters in downtown Montreal, with logo
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Hydro-Québec headquarters in downtown Montreal, with logo

Hydro-Québec is a government-owned corporation that provides hydroelectric power for Quebec, Canada.

Hydro-Québec was originally created by Premier Adélard Godbout on April 14 1944 in a partial nationalization of electricity companies around Montréal, notably Montreal Light, Heat and Power. The full name was "Québec Hydro-Electric Commission", but the name Hydro-Québec soon came into use. The first president was Télesphore-Damien Bouchard.

The name was chosen because Québec produces most of its electricity from hydroelectric sources.

Maurice Duplessis became premier again later in 1944, and refused any further nationalizations of power companies.

During the Quiet Revolution, the remaining 11 privately-owned electricity companies in Quebec were nationalized, greatly expanding Hydro-Québec into its modern form. The nationalization was completed under the initiative of René Lévesque, Minister of Hydroelectric Resources and Public Works in the Liberal government of Jean Lesage.

Beginning in 1965, Jean-Jacques Archambault and his colleagues made Hydro-Québec the first utility in the world to use 735 kV transmission lines for the most efficient long-distance transport of electricity. These lines currently make up one third of the power grid in Quebec.

In the 1970s, Liberal Premier Robert Bourassa initiated the construction of the James Bay hydroelectric project. Today, it contributes a significant fraction of Quebec's power requirements.

On March 13, 1989, Hydro-Québec experienced a blackout due to a solar geomagnetic storm. Restoration of power took about nine hours.

In January 1998, a major and unprecedented ice storm destroyed a large number of electric pylons and transmission lines. The ice storm left parts of the island of Montreal without electricity for up to six days, and some other areas of Quebec for up to three weeks.

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