After nearly three years of negotiations and meetings with politicians, potential suppliers and the public, work on building the Maritime Link will soon begin in Cape Breton.
During a presentation to Cape Breton regional council Tuesday, Emera Newfoundland and Labrador president Rick Janega said tree-clearing work for transmission lines on the Northside will start “fairly shortly,” employing between 20 and 50 people.
He said two subsea cables the size of a “two-litre bottle of pop” will be buried about one metre beneath the seabed of the Cabot Strait. The cables will come ashore just northwest of the existing Nova Scotia Power generating station in Point Aconi.
From there, transmission towers will support the cable 46 kilometres inland across the Cape Breton Regional Municipality to a converter station at Woodbine. The high-voltage direct current will switch to a 230-kilovolt alternating current for use in the province’s power grid.
A grounding tower will be built in Big Lorraine, a community near Louisbourg.
Cape Breton played a critical role in bringing the Maritime Link to Nova Scotia because there is so much (power) generation on the island the transmission facilities are actually strong enough and large enough to be able to carry this amount of energy and transmit it through the province,” Janega said.
The subsea cable is expected to be laid near the end of the project in 2017, once all other infrastructure is in place, he said.
Emera’s director of environment and aboriginal affairs, Ken Meade, told council it completed a number of approval processes in 2013, with the federal government loan guarantee a milestone event for the project in December.
As much as 90 per cent of the land the company needs for its transmission towers and converter station is held in private hands.
Meade said Emera expects to pay for easements on those properties.
“We’re undertaking different portions of the construction activities at different times over the next 2 1/2 years,” Meade said.
“We’ve got a big focus on, as we speak, to ensure that the land rights that we need are resolved in advance of those activities.”
He said there are about 200 landowners along the route of the proposed transmission line.
Many of the landowners already have easements for existing transmission infrastructure, Meade added.
About 250 to 300 workers would be needed at the peak of construction for the Maritime Link in 2015 and 2016.
A camp won’t be built for the workers but those employed on the project will take up accommodations in local motels and inns, Janega said.