Health concerns put Hydro power conservation plan on hold

Hydro Quebec is putting a proposed energy conservation program on hold because of worries that it could make people sick.

Public Health officials refused to sign off on Hydro Quebec's plan to recruit volunteers whose home water heaters would be switched off during periods of peak demand.  This would help Hydro avoid having to purchase power from other jurisdictions, an expensive exercise.  In return, the customers would get a rebate on their monthly Hydro bill.

The utility figured that it would resort to the option perhaps 20 times each year, turning the water heaters off for up to four hours at a time.

Public Health doctors felt that could make the heaters breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria , including the one that causes Legionnaires' disease.

However, according to La Presse, Hydro-Sherbrooke has had a similar program in place since 1994 and there has been no corresponding increase in Legionella.  

A Hydro Quebec spokesperson tells La Presse that the conservation program is on indefinite hold.