The CEO of Énergir wants to reassure investors

Énergir investors do not have to worry, the gas network will be able to benefit from the energy transition even if it has to halve its gas distribution, according to its CEO, Éric Lachance, who participated in an event organized by the Council on International Relations of Montreal (CORIM), Tuesday.

Quebec is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and the role of natural gas in a low-emission future is bound to decline.

“We are therefore working to reduce the volumes of gas that we distribute and to ensure that those that must remain are increasingly low-carbon and renewable,” indicated Éric Lachance, President and CEO of Énergir.

This reduction would affect residential and commercial consumption.

Mr. Lachance specified that Énergir is aiming for “a gradual reduction in volumes of around 50%” by 2050, and the remaining gas would essentially be used to provide energy to industrial customers.

“Our network will always be relevant since it will be used for what we cannot electrify, or what would cost too much to electrify,” said the CEO, who wanted to reassure the business people gathered in a hotel.

“Our business model is transforming to meet the challenges of decarbonization, while ensuring our long-term profitability, particularly for our investors. They don’t need to be worried. »

New business opportunities

Mr. Lachance indicated that the decline of fossil natural gas opened the door to “lots of opportunities”.

“Hydrogen, carbon capture, geothermal energy, if it develops, require underground pipes, so we have the skills to play a role in that, and each of these markets is worth billions potential investments, so I have zero concerns for Énergir,” he explained.

These “new opportunities” could lead Énergir to invest in new infrastructure.

Its gas network, which extends over more than 11,000 km, can be used for renewable natural gas (RNG), produced from residual organic materials.

But for hydrogen, “there are perhaps places where it will be possible, but that is not our strategy, so we are talking about new infrastructure,” indicated Éric Lachance.

Énergir is interested in the United States

The CEO of the gas network indicated that he is “always on the lookout for acquisitions in the United States” in the energy distribution market.

If Énergir is eyeing the south, it is not, according to the CEO, “because of what is happening with gas in Quebec”, but because the energy transition will cause “growth in other sectors of activities”.

Énergir, owned by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, holds the monopoly on the distribution of natural gas in Quebec.

Under a regulation, Énergir is required to use a minimum of 2% renewable natural gas this year in its network. It will be 5% in 2025 and 10% in 2030.

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