Société d'énergie de la Baie James celebrates 40 years
In the past 40 years, Société d'énergie de la Baie James (SEBJ) has piloted the construction of hydroelectric developments in mid-northern Québec on the territory covered by the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement.
Over the years, this Hydro-Québec subsidiary has acquired unique expertise. Able to plan and manage several large-scale projects simultaneously, while respecting the environment, SEBJ has developed and promoted technological innovation in engineering and ensured procurement in remote areas.
SEBJ was prime contractor for the La Grande complex. Built in two phases from 1973 to 1996, the complex continues to supply over 50% of the electricity generated by Hydro-Québec. Early in the 21st century, SEBJ undertook the construction of Eastmain-1 generating station and is about to complete the Eastmain-1-A/Sarcelle/Rupert project.
The La Grande adventure
On April 30, 1971, Premier Robert Bourassa launched the “project of the century”, which led to the development of the La Grande complex. In December 1971, Société d'énergie de la Baie James (SEBJ) was established.
From 1971 to 1974, the James Bay highway, which stretches 620 km, was built between Matagami and La Grande-2 generating station. From 1974 to1979, a 660-km east-west road was also built, connecting the James Bay highway to Caniapiscau reservoir.
The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) was signed on November 11, 1975. From then until 1993, some 15 agreements were signed with the Crees to increase cooperation and facilitate implementation of the initial agreement.
In February 2002, under the historic Paix des braves agreement, Hydro-Québec signed the Nadoshtin Agreement, which authorized the construction of Eastmain-1 generating station as defined out in the JBNQA, and the Boumhounan Agreement, which paved the way for the Eastmain-1-A/Sarcelle/Rupert project. In addition to their participation in construction work, for the very first time, the Crees were involved in every phase of the feasibility study and took part in environmental follow-up activities.
Phase I (1973-1985)
1973-1981: Construction of La Grande-2 generating station (renamed Robert-Bourassa in 1996), the world’s largest underground powerhouse.
1976-1985: Construction of La Grande-3 and La Grande-4 generating stations.
Phase II (1987-1996)
1987-1996: Construction of Brisay, Laforge-1, Laforge-2, La Grande-1 and La Grande-2-A generating stations.
2002-2006: Construction of Eastmain-1 powerhouse.
2007-2012: Construction of Eastmain-1-A and Sarcelle powerhouses.