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Hydro-Québec is a government-owned public utility established in 1944 by the Government of Quebec. Based in Montreal, the company oversees generation, transmission and distribution of electricity for all of Quebec.

Relying almost exclusively on its sixty hydroelectric generating stations, Hydro-Québec is the largest electricity generator in Canada and the world's largest hydroelectric producer. As of 2011, the combined capacity of its power stations was 35,829 megawatt (MW) and its distribution network served 4.11 million customers.

Hydro-Québec in SupervolcanoEdit

During a town meeting in Guilford, Maine some six years after the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted, Jim Farrell announced that a large part of the power grid in northeastern North America depended on electricity from hydroelectric plants in northern Quebec. He then added that while those plants remained in operation since the eruption, the winters were getting colder and there was real fear that the rivers would freeze and the plants fail.[1]

Shortly after, Kelly Ferguson attended a geologists' convention in Chicago. She had dinner with Geoff Rheinburg who seemed distracted and admitted he was worried about the electric powerplants of Hydro-Québec. He too was concerned the rivers might freeze due to all the cooling materials thrown up by the Supervolcano eruption. A couple of nights later, still during the convention, the grid did fail leaving both the Northeast and Upper Midwest in the dark and Kelly stuck in Chicago for several weeks.[2]

In the immediate aftermath, it was estimated that a few hundred to a few thousand had frozen to death but exact figures were difficult to come by due to the same lack of electricity.[3] A short term solution was to ration power with major Northeast cities receiving electricity on a staggered basis. Boston and Philadelphia received power 5-8 a.m. and 6-9 p.m., New York for 6-8 a.m., 11 a.m - 1 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. while Cleveland only had power 6-9 p.m.[4] For the longer term, coal fired and nuclear power plants were proposed but agreement from congress was long time coming.[5]


  1. Things Fall Apart, pg. 250 HC.
  2. Ibid, pgs. 261-265.
  3. Ibid, pg. 272.
  4. Ibid, pg. 297.
  5. Ibid, pg. 342.

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