QUEBEC - The Quebec government has pleased environmentalists but angered municipalities with the cancellation of a project to build six small hydroelectric generating stations.
Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet says the government made the decision on economic grounds since continuing with the projects would have meant Hydro-Quebec would have had to buy the electricity that wasn't sold and incur a loss.
Ouellet, who has a reputation as a strong environmentalist, says cancelling the projects also made sense because Quebec is predicted to have a power surplus through to 2027.
She says scrapping the projects will mean an annual saving of $24 million per year, based on a resale price of four cents per kilowatt.
Municipalities and developers involved in the projects, whose power output was to be less than 50 kilowatts, will be compensated for the amounts they invested but Ouellet did not specify an exact amount.
The move falls in with efforts by Premier Pauline Marois' minority Parti Quebecois government to portray itself as a sound manager of the Quebec economy.
It has argued it inherited an economic mess from Jean Charest's Liberals.
The sovereigntist PQ also wants to show that it would be able to run a country if they ever won a referendum to take Quebec out of Canada.
Christian Simard, the director general of Nature Quebec, praises the government's decision, calling the projects unnecessary.
He said the power projects would have a negative impact on the environment and he cited others he wished had been cancelled as well.
But Bernard Genereux, president of the Federation of Quebec Municipalities, says the government is creating a smokescreen by invoking the economic argument to kill the projects.
He says by that logic the government should cancel all energy developments.
Genereux, who was defeated as a PQ candidate in last year's provincial election, said the government made the decisions for ideological reasons.