Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro plans to import power to the main island grid over the Maritime Link and Labrador-Island Link in the period before the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric power plant is ready and before the Holyrood power plant is decommissioned, in an effort to keep in-province energy costs down.
As reported, the Muskrat Falls power project is behind schedule, with full power from the new hydroelectric plant not expected until the second quarter of 2020. The Labrador-Island Link, meanwhile, is scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2018 and the Maritime Link even sooner, in late 2017.
The island of Newfoundland will be connected to the mainland North American grid for the first time ever, resulting in N.L. Hydro exploring new options for its power supply, to avoid use of the fuel-burning plant at Holyrood.
“Hydro will be using this opportunity to economically purchase energy to reduce Holyrood Thermal Generating Station production,” a spokeswoman for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, said in an emailed response to questions this week.
The Labrador-Island Link and the Maritime Link —one entirely and another partially within provincial borders — are not wholly owned by Hydro’s parent company, Crown corporation Nalcor Energy. Nova Scotia's Emera is invested in the Labrador-Island Link and is proponent of the Maritime Link project.
“The contract terms with respect to payments being required from Hydro for using the Labrador-Island Link in advance of any generation being available from Muskrat Falls are currently under review,” the Hydro rep said.
The Telegram requested further information on the negotiations and who is involved in the noted review, but was told no further details are yet available, “currently Nalcor is only in scoping phase.”
The raw cost of the import power will be largely dependent on the North American markets at the time, plus subject to any discussions with market participants.
Power from Hydro’s plant at Holyrood remains an option.
Nalcor Energy president and CEO Stan Marshall had already made clear his plans to look at use of Churchill Falls recall power in-province. At the other end, the Maritime Link, linking Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, has a roughly 300-megawatt capacity. It was built with the focus of supplying power from Newfoundland and Labrador to Nova Scotia.