Opposition points finger at proposed power line

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Added connection from Bay d’Espoir would not have helped: premier

Provincial Liberal Leader Dwight Ball has said a lack of transmission space between Bay d’Espoir and St. John’s prolonged the power outages experienced in the past week, leaving the most populated part of the island of Newfoundland unnecessarily in the cold.

Bay D'Espoir hydroelectric generating station. file photo.

Ball has pointed to talk in recent years by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, before the Public Utilities Board (PUB), of adding a new, main power line from the island’s largest hydroelectric power plant at Bay d’Espoir to the Avalon Peninsula.

Hydro will need to get approval for the project from the PUB. It has been working on a formal proposal for years now, but has yet to actually put the request to the regulator.

Specifically, the project is a new, 230-kilowatt line from the Bay d’Espoir and Western Avalon terminal stations.

The idea is that the new line would allow more power to be moved from various sources from central and west — including Bay d’Espoir and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper — to the Eastern half of the island, where new businesses and rapid new home construction, with electric heating, has added to the power demand.

Regardless of the current situation, the plan is still to build the line, potentially starting within the next year, Hydro staff has stated, if the PUB approves the project. The total cost is estimated at $268 million.

In perspective, that’s about two and a half times Hydro's entire capital budget for the last year. It would be the most expensive piece of construction for Hydro, and the largest Nalcor Energy — its parent company — has taken the lead on, outside of the ongoing $7.7-billion Muskrat Falls project.

At a news conference at Hydro Place in St. John’s Monday afternoon, both Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Nalcor Energy president and CEO Ed Martin said they have no idea what Ball is talking about in suggesting the new power line would have helped the power problems in the last week.

“We do have the capacity to bring power through our (existing) Bay d’Espoir lines,” Dunderdale said. “There’s no power being held up anywhere. A third line would not have made any difference to this situation. This is not a transmission issue. It’s a generation issue.”

Ball was asked about those comments. He said he has received different information on the status of the main lines, suggesting they were operating at capacity, with no room to bring in more power from Bay d’Espoir or other points central and west.

If there was room, he said, the Avalon could have been fed more power more quickly.

“If there’s space on the lines, OK, I could understand what she’s saying, but there’s confusion here,” he said, requesting that Hydro, Nalcor and the province put forward some solid numbers on the line’s usage.

Meanwhile, Hydro has previously told the PUB the new line will only be needed when a new power generator is brought online. The line project was pushed back while a decision was being made on whether or not Muskrat Falls would go ahead.

Since the green light was given by the Dunderdale government for that project in late-2012, Nalcor Energy and Hydro staff have told the PUB the line project would be built to coincide with the 2017 in-service date for power infrastructure associated with Muskrat Falls.

“Given that the expected in-service date of the Labrador-Island (high voltage direct current) transmission link is 2017, Hydro has moved the upgraded transmission line corridor — Bay d’Espoir to Western Avalon proposal to coincide with the 2017 in-service date.”

Nalcor Energy leaders have stated the request for approval of the project, while not filed with Hydro’s 2014 budget application, will be put to the PUB at some point in 2014.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Nalcor Energy, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Western Avalon terminal Hydro Place

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Recent comments

  • Billy Gosse
    January 08, 2014 - 15:40

    I wish the media would actually read the MF submissions to the PUB. The 3rd line is required, regardless of whether we continued with the isolated island option, or if we bring electricity from MF over HVdc transmission. In both instances, the extra line is needed. Which begs the question... why hasn't construction already started? Exhibit 24 of the Muskrat Falls submission to the PUB states the following, and I quote: "Detailed analysis of the Island Interconnected Transmission System has revealed that a new 230 kV transmission line between Bay d’Espoir and Western Avalon whether either the HVdc transmission line is built between Labrador and the Island, or if the Island were to remain electrically isolated. In the context of the HVdc interconnection, the new line is required for power system stability reasons. In the context of a continued isolated Island, the remaining hydroelectric developments such as Portland Creek, Island Pond and Round Pond are located in central and west while the load center is located on the Avalon Peninsula. The third 230 kV transmission line from Bay d’Espoir to the Avalon Peninsula is required to increase power transfers to the load center. One benefit of the third 230 kV transmission line is that combined with thermal uprating of TL202 and TL206 there appears to be sufficient transfer capability for single transmission line contingencies without having to rebuild TL203. Further analysis is required on this point to firm up the status of TL203. It is expected that the Bay d’Espoir to Western Avalon 230 kV transmission line addition project will be submitted as part of NLH’s next capital budget and five year plan for completion in year five." Here is the link: http://www.pub.nf.ca/applications/muskratfalls2011/files/exhibits/Exhibit24-IslandTransmissionOutlook.pdf

  • Thomas Didymus, the doubting one.
    January 08, 2014 - 08:08

    Just as I and 80 per cent of my fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians goaded Premier Williams a decade ago to dun the Liberal Government for information on matters (corrupt) that were impacting on our province's economy I, and I am sure 80 per cent, again, of my fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians want Mr. Dwight Ball to dun Premier Dunderdale's Conservative Government for transparency and honesty on all matters that affect us here in this province. I am afraid though that I am now so cynical of all politicians that I will only believe in their honesty when they deliver it for the next 65 years.

  • Hugo Williams
    January 07, 2014 - 22:28

    Related Commentary not provided by the mainstream media in Newfoundlandistan or Danistan - Ratepayers Conserve Power Unless You Own A Hockey Team - Game On. http://bondpapers.blogspot.ca/2014/01/the-great-blizzardblackout-2014-nlpoli.html#more http://unclegnarley.blogspot.ca/

  • Just me
    January 07, 2014 - 22:14

    Lots of numbers and opinions going around. It should be pretty simple. How much energy do we need for now and how much do we have.? Then ask how much do we need for projected development for the future. If we don't have the power, don't develop. Also something doesn't look right when equipment is down this time of year. Lastly, consumers need to look in the mirror and ask if they helped by cutting back. Not everybody did.

  • Grunt
    January 07, 2014 - 19:51

    This is obviously a generation issue. Given that the Holyrood plant is currently derated to about 50% of maximum capacity and your lights are presently ON, then clearly there is sufficient transmission capacity to meet Avalon demand by availing of the generation at Bay d'espoir. At about noon and 6 PM, the electical demand on the island will probably approach its daily and regular peak value. At these times, the generation plant at Bay d'espoir is at maximum capacity and only TWO transmission lines are required. When the temperature goes below -10 degrees Celcius (or so), electric heaters stay on longer and represent an increased demand on the power system. Rotating blackouts are required when the online generation is insufficient to meet this increased demand. Additional transmission from Bay d'espoir will gain the Avalon nothing unless there is additional generation installed at Bay d'espoir to transmit.

    • Meow
      January 08, 2014 - 11:06

      Nalcor isn't recording how much it is spilling in terms of wasted electricity from Bay D'espoir as per photo proof by Danny Dumersque has provided through twitter. The bottom line is if the 3rd transmission line had been put in place an addition 140 MW of firm power could have been introduced to the power and we would not be having this problem. These are facts presented by Nalcor before Muskrat Falls became a thing.

  • Is there potential hydro energy in Bay d'Espoir waiting for a transmission line to bring it to the Avalon Peninsula?
    January 07, 2014 - 19:07

    Mr. Ball please don't back off on your understanding that the lack of transmission space between Bay d’Espoir and St. John’s prolonged the power outages. We have to prove this point to be right or wrong . It would be great if Hydro, Nalcor and the province could put forward some solid numbers on this assumption. It has been bandied about for years that there is energy that could be utilized if a transmission line was erected between Bay d'Espoir and the Avalon Peninsula.

  • Ed Power
    January 07, 2014 - 18:48

    If I remember correctly, "what did clyde wells say", "Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark" was a popular anti-National Energy Policy bumper sticker in Alberta in the early 1980s. It should be noted that at that time, there were no Federal Liberals elected in the province of Alberta and the PC government of Peter Lougheed had been governing the province since 1971. How you managed to misattribute this quote to Clyde Wells and the Liberal Party - provincial or federal - is a mystery.

  • Susan
    January 07, 2014 - 16:57

    Mr Ball stop complaining all the time. Now its time for you to show leadership. Give us you plan? LOL...Hold on folks for a rude awaking...Ball answer...I'm Thinking, give me a minutes,/////////////////////Sorry nothing..

  • Ambrose
    January 07, 2014 - 16:19

    More B/S from Ball and the Liberals, The man just don't understand what he talking about. No need for a new line, unless we are installing another generation. Ball just trying to score Politics point at the expense of the people. Give the him little more time, He will be coming back, Saying I heard it from a friend, some what like Gerry Byrne.

  • what did clyde wells say
    January 07, 2014 - 13:11

    let'em freeze in the dark; eastern parasties of newfoundland; or words to that effect; a trip down memory lane they werent so warm and fuzzy those liberals back then

  • Winston Adams
    January 07, 2014 - 13:04

    Strictly speaking, if both existing lines are loaded to capacity, to say a third line would not have been useful in this crisis situation is plain wrong. Dunderdale and Ed Martin says it is a generation supply problem, and there was no more power to send to the Avalon, so a third line would make NO difference. Neither of these people are enginers, so they get away with that nonsense. It so happens that when lines are loaded up to capacity, the transmission line losses are increased, so significant power that leaves from our central and south coast plants never gets here, but is wasted as transmission losses. If for example we are sending 400 MW and have 8 percent losses, this is 32 MW lost. If a third line reduces losses to 4 percent, this means that 16 extra MW of the power leaving arrives here than with 2 lines. There is no more power generation needed to achieve that, it is just an efficiency issue: like 3 extension cords can handle more that 2, more of the useful power gets through. In a time of crisis this amount of power gain is not insignificant. And of course, if there is extra generation also available, this further adds to the benefit. Ashley, ask those people to explain to you the benefits of low transmission losses, and if they still claim that generation supply is the only issue. PS, I am an ex employee (engineer) of Nfld Hydro that was involved with high voltage power systems. Ask Rob Henderson if a third line would have been beneficial in reducing the misery of long outages and fewer people being cold. In reality, a third line to the Avalon reduces the need for Holyrood. holyrood production has gone down from 30 to 10.5 percent of our total production. The more Holyrood production drops the less the need for Muskrat Falls. The delay on the third line seems deliberate, a gamble that backfired. And incompetence is apparent. I guess the PUB will get the facts. Hope they question them on their decisions not to have demand management systems in place , and robust efficiency measures as part of their Conservation Plan, to flatten the winter peak demand. These wise measures have been ignored, as government policy, and we pay the price by rotating blackouts.

  • Anon
    January 07, 2014 - 12:42

    In the meantime, no one is talking about the massive tin-foil shortage that's being horded by the muskrat falls conspiracy crowd.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    January 07, 2014 - 11:58

    IT IS A CLEAR STRATEGY ---- Government (in cahoots with Nalcor) is holding construction of the new line from Bay d'Espoir to the Avalon hostage to the completion of Muskrat Falls ---- and the people are paying the price for Nalcor's bureaucratic game so as to get its way with Muskrat.