Nova Scotia regulator approves $1.5-B Muskrat Falls hydro subsea cable
© Telegram photo
Muskrat Falls. — File photo
Nalcor president and CEO Ed Martin says the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board (UARB) decision on the Maritime Link is still under review, but he provided some early thoughts, speaking with reporters in St. John’s at about 3 p.m.today.
“We welcome today’s decision by the UARB in Nova Scotia,” he said.
He said the decision states running power from Newfoundland and Labrador over the Maritime Link and into Nova Scotia represents the lowest-cost option for that province to meet its energy needs.
He also acknowledged the finding by the UARB has a qualifier: it is dependent on a supplementary agreement, whereby more power is secured for use in Nova Scotia if needed, above and beyond what is promised under the current Muskrat Falls contracts.
Martin said Nalcor Energy is willing to deal for more power, but said Nova Scotia’s Emera is also able to secure power from another source.
He said he did not want to make any decisions for Emera.
In a statement, Emera has said the UARB decision is under review.
As for what a deal with Nova Scotia for more power might look like, Martin said the Crown corporation is interested in getting “an appropriate economic return” for Newfoundland and Labrador in the case of a sale of Muskrat Falls power considered to be over and above what the province needs.
Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board has approved a proposal to build a subsea cable to ship hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls in Labrador to Nova Scotia.
The board made its decision conditional on the the project obtaining from Nalcor Energy the right to access the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown utility’s market-priced energy.
The board was asked to decide whether constructing the cable, known as the Maritime Link, was the cheapest long-term alternative for the province’s electricity users and whether it meets requirements on the release of air pollutants.
During hearings earlier this year, consumer and small business advocates in Nova Scotia questioned whether the proposal by a subsidiary of Emera Inc. (TSX:EMA) would benefit electricity customers, who would foot the bill for the $1.5-billion project.
Opponents also doubted assertions from Emera and Premier Darrell Dexter that the project would stabilize electricity rates in the future.
But Emera has argued that Muskrat Falls would serve about 10 per cent of Nova Scotia’s power needs, bringing clean energy into the province.
Nova Scotia’s opposition parties have also voiced their objections to the proposal, saying it warranted greater scrutiny by the government.
Construction of Muskrat Falls is underway in Labrador with the $7.7-billion venture scheduled to generate power by 2017.