Energy research for a sustainable future.

Expert support for climate-conscious energy planning.

The Helios Centre is a non-profit research group, providing independent expertise in a broad range of energy issues.

Through its research work and the dissemination of its many publications, the Helios Centre aims to foster and build the knowledge base required to achieve a sustainable energy future.

Issues

The societal debates around the Great Whale Project, a 3,000-MW installation proposed by Hydro-Québec for the Great Whale River, bordering the Cree and Inuit territories in Northern Quebec, in a sense paved the way for the creation of the Helios Centre. In the early 1990s, Executive Director Philip Raphals acted as Deputy Scientific Coordinator of the body created to carry out a joint environmental assessment of this project. The multi-disciplinary team led by Dr. Michel Bouchard developed a unique crosscutting roadmap (the “Guidelines”) for the assessment. The project was withdrawn by the government after the Crown Corporation failed to provide the information required by the panels.
Over the years, the Helios Centre has realized a number of studies and projects addressing climate change. In addition to the specific projects mentioned here, most of the Helios Centre’s work is focussed on thinking through the low-carbon electricity transition, in all of its aspects.
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) has a small population but a large territory. Its regulatory regime for energy is particularly complex, due to its geographic diversity.In addition to its work on the Muskrat Falls project, the Helios Centre has provided expert testimony in a number of regulatory proceedings since 2013, first on behalf of the Innu and more recently on behalf the municipalities of Labrador Interconnected System (including the Innu reserve of Sheshiatsiu).
On behalf of the Helios Centre, Philip Raphals has acted as an advisor to the governing board of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute since 2000, and currently serves as chair of its Renewable Markets Advisory Panel. The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) is a US non-profit organization created out of a collaboration between American Rivers, a river conservation organization, and Green Mountain Energy Resources, an electricity marketer. It has published detailed, science-based criteria for identifying hydro projects which are low-impact, based on their operations.
In 2005 and 2006, the Centre was involved in the environmental assessment of Hydro-Québec’s controversial Eastmain 1A/Rupert Diversion project, first as a consultant to the federal panel, and later as an expert engaged by the three Cree communities directly affected by the project (Chisasibi, Nemaska and Waskaganish). While the joint review panel did support the project, which ultimately was constructed, it was remarkable in that one of the three members dissented, finding that the environmental and social harms the project would cause were not justified by its economic benefits.
Quebec energy policy and electricity have been an important focus of the Helios Centre’s work over the years, on issues ranging from energy planning and ratemaking to energy efficiency, demand response, wind power integration and transmission policy.
Over the years, the Helios Centre has helped several First Nations deal with the issues surrounding electric generation, in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Producing and managing Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, requires enormous amounts of electricity, which is why "bitcoin mining" seeks out low-cost jurisdictions like Quebec and Labrador. Its impacts on the electric system varies from place to place, and regulatory responses must be crafted to protect other consumers from the excess costs this can generate.
In order to evaluate the benefits of reducing consumption and demand for electricity, utilities use the concept of avoided costs. Getting it right matters, and avoided costs are often substantially higher during system peak than at other times.
The Helios Centre has been an active participant in the debates surrounding the Muskrat Falls Project (the Lower Churchill Project) in Labrador (NL) since 2012 and its impacts on the electric system in Labrador.
The Helios Centre has been an active participant in the debates surrounding the Site C Hydroelectric Project in B.C. since 2017.

Publications

We invite you to browse or search our publication archive.