P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, shown in this file photo, says the Lower Churchill deal gives his province the opportunity to buy electricity in the future. — Photo by The Canadian Press
Premier Robert Ghiz says a blockbuster power deal between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia to develop the Lower Churchill is good news for all of Atlantic Canada.
“It will give Prince Edward Island the opportunity at that time to purchase some of that electricity,” Ghiz told reporters.
“The more competition there is, the more likely our province is to get a better price.”
Under the term sheet announced Thursday in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown utility, Nalcor Energy, would spend $2.9 billion to build a power-generating facility at Muskrat Falls capable of producing 824 megawatts of electricity.
A transmission link from Labrador to Newfoundland would cost $2.1 billion, $600 million of which would be provided by Emera Inc. That link would span 1,100 kilometres, including a 30-km subsea connection across the Strait of Bell Isle.
A 180-km subsea link between Cape Ray, N.L., and Lingan, N.S., would cost $1.2 billion, all funded by Emera, which owns Nova Scotia Power.
Prince Edward Island’s Energy Minister Richard Brown just returned from Ottawa, where he lobbied the federal government for another power cable between P.E.I. and New Brunswick. That cable would be needed to connect to Lower Churchill power once it is flowing through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The P.E.I. cable would carry a price tag of about $90 million.
Brown met with federal Infrastructure Minister Chuck Strahl and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, who is the minister responsible for Prince Edward Island.
There were no commitments but the talks will continue.
“We put our case forward to Ottawa,” Brown said.
“Especially with the growing co-operation that is starting to occur between the Atlantic provinces.”
Under the agreement, Nova Scotia would receive 170 megawatts of energy annually — about eight to 10 per cent of the province's total power needs — for 35 years.
Emera would also have an option on an additional 330 mega-watts that could go elsewhere, including P.E.I., New Brunswick and New England.
P.E.I. has just signed a power purchase agreement with NB Power for five years, but the province is examining the option of buying into the Lower Churchill project after the current power purchase agreement expires.
Power should start flowing from Lower Churchill in 2017.
Ghiz said Prince Edward Island is a small player on the Atlantic energy front.
Still, Ghiz said they will explore opportunities including buying into the Lower Churchill project or expanding Island wind power to offset the hydroelectricity produced in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s a great green energy mix that we now have coming out of Atlantic Canada,” the premier said.
“Once we see the market conditions improve, you’ll see more wind development in the province.”