PEI wants in on potential Lower Churchill deal

Wayne Thibodeau
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Prince Edward Island is actively engaged in talks to plug into a blockbuster power deal set to be announced today that will see Lower Churchill hydroelectric power pumped into Nova Scotia.

Energy Minister Richard Brown spent much of Wednesday on the phone with his Newfoundland counterpart before boarding a plane to Ottawa to push forward P.E.I.’s proposal for another power cable to New Brunswick.

Media reports on Wednesday confirmed that Newfoundland and Labrador had finalized a deal to develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project with Emera Energy of Nova Scotia. The details are expected to be announced today in St. John’s but the proposal is expected to see the power funneled through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and then into the U.S.

With cheap, renewable, and clean power on the Island’s doorsteps, Brown said he’s doing everything he can to ensure the province can plug in.

“There has been a tremendous amount of talks with Newfoundland over the Lower Churchill,” Brown told The Guardian.

“This is a win, win, win situation for Atlantic Canada.”

The energy minister said power from Lower Churchill would provide an ideal balance for the Island’s wind power and create even cheaper electricity rates than what was promised in Tuesday’s P.E.I. Energy Accord. That accord promised a 14 per cent cut in electricity bills beginning in March of next year.

The P.E.I. government has already committed to buying a stake into the Lower Churchill project, which would given the Island a long-term purchase agreement similar to what the province signed with New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau nuclear plant.

“This is a perfect scenario with Lower Churchill, a cable through Nova Scotia, through New Brunswick to P.E.I. Consumers will see big benefits from this kind of system.”

“This is a win, win, win situation for Atlantic Canada.” Energy Minister Richard Brown

The mega-power deal will see 800 megawatts of power at Muskrat Falls developed. It is being heralded as a major economic change for the East Coast.

The entire province of P.E.I. uses less than 200 megawatts and 70 megawatts of that comes from wind power.

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said such a deal would guarantee access to clean, renewable power and be a potential revenue generator if the electricity is sold to the U.S. market.

“These kinds of projects cover generations,” Dexter said Wednesday.

“You can imagine having some component of your energy portfolio that is stable for many, many years.”

P.E.I. is not the only province that would need a power cable to help connect the dots on this project.

While a new cable between P.E.I. and New Brunswick would cost about $90 million, constructing a subsea cable between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia could carry a price tag of $800 million to $1.2 billion.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have asked the federal government for $375 million to help make that cable happen.

Power could start pumping out of Lower Churchill in five years, which is why the current P.E.I. Energy Accord is for a five year period, said Brown. He said the idea of tapping into cheap, renewable and clean energy is not a pipe dream, he said it can and will happen.

“Atlantic Canada is starting to get its act together,” said Brown.




(With additional files by The Canadian Press)

Organizations: The Guardian, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador New Brunswick U.S. Atlantic Canada Ottawa East Coast

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Recent comments

  • Lloyd
    November 22, 2010 - 18:40

    PEI wants in on potential Lower Churchill deal ------------------------------------------ Labrador would like to be in on this deal too, if it goes ahead. Right now it looks like everyone EXCEPT Labradorians are going to get something! Imagine. All those promises.

  • tom
    November 18, 2010 - 09:40

    Will be generations before we see anything... we first have to offset the 4.5 BILLION to build this thing.

  • John Smith
    November 18, 2010 - 08:38

    Gosh, where would we be without the comments of posters like W mcclean. This dupe doesn't even live here in the province, yet is consistant in his naysaying about anything that goes on here. I wonder if this is really kelvin parsons in disguise? Sure sounds like it.

  • W McLean
    November 18, 2010 - 08:04

    And Plugged In... what if it's not cheaper, but more expensive?

  • plugged in
    November 18, 2010 - 07:52

    Where were NS and PEI and NB when we were trying to negotiate a deal with Quebec? Now that we never caved in to the bully hydro quebec and decided to go it alone,they all want to come to the party. The idea of clean cheap power means nothing unless it is cheaper for residents on the island and Labrador.

    • John
      November 18, 2010 - 09:04

      Plugged in - If you remember correctly, Mr. Dexter was on the side of NL when NB was negotating with Quebec. In fact, I believe that was when NL and NS started discussions about the submarine power cable to NS.

    • Jacob
      November 19, 2010 - 14:24

      "Cheaper" electricity should not be the issue. Hydro is a clean, sustainable energy source that will have stable prices for generations. Fossil-fueled powerplants will inevitably cost more to run as time progresses and oil stocks dwindle, so investing in hydro is absolutely the most sound decision for the province's energy requirements.