System reliability part of morning Q&A at Muskrat Falls review hearing
System reliability was the focus this morning at the PUB’s public hearings on the proposed Muskrat Falls hydro project.
Counsel for Nalcor Energy, Thomas O’Reilly, questioned the panel of representatives for Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) about their review of the project. Particularly, he focused on their assessment of Nalcor’s look at system reliability and the likelihood of a failure along some 1,100 kilometres of proposed overhead transmission line.
The probabilities are expressed in numerical terms: “1 in 150,” versus “1 in 100” or “1 in 50.”
The “1 in 150” builds are the strongest and least likely to fail, but also the most expensive.
Nalcor has previously stated it has found the province will get the most value for its construction dollar in a “1 in 50” line, with specific response plans for potentially problem areas.
Manitoba Hydro has recommended Nalcor consider beefing up the lines to a “1 in 150” level.
“There are others in Canada building to the 1 in 150,” MHI’s Paul Wilson said.
O’Reilly cut in, asking if it was true anywhere in Canada was not building to that level.
“Apparently here in Newfoundland,” Wilson said, before noting Alberta is working to a “1 in 100” level.
MHI’s Allen Snyder, a co-author on the MHI report, said the Muskrat Falls development plans a 230 kilovolt line, with sections running over remote areas where there is no historical data for power lines and no alternate supply.
Snyder called it a “backbone system” for the province and “therefore, it is our recommendation it should follow best utility practices.”
The area he references with no data is the section of line to be run over the Long Range Mountains on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula. It will be a new transmission route for island power.
On Wednesday, questions had been raised with Nalcor about what the potential cost of beefing up that section of line would be.
Nalcor vice-president Gilbert Bennett informed the PUB the area of line is already designed to be stronger, more resistant to failure, than other areas of line and Nalcor is spending more than double the price for that additional strength in those areas.
He said upgrading the structural integrity of the lines a further 25 per cent would cost an additional $20 million to $25 million.
However, said Bennett, “certainly our energy restoration plan would be focused on the Long Range Mountains area.”
This article has been updated to correct factual errors.