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Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall offers optimism in the face of concerns of potential power outages in winter 2018

Nalcor Energy president and CEO Stan Marshall takes questions from reporters Thursday at the Crown corporation’s annual general meeting at the Holiday Inn on MacDonald Drive in St. John’s.
Nalcor Energy president and CEO Stan Marshall — File photo

Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall is offering assurances that the Labrador-Island Link will be up and running in time for winter, in the face of a report questioning whether the island’s electrical system will be ready for the coming winter.

On August 30, The Liberty Consulting Group filed a report with the Public Utilities Board (PUB) warning of an increased risk of power outages over the winter due to concerns over whether or not the Labrador-Island Link (LIL) will be up and running in time. On top of that, “poor performance” at the Holyrood Generating Station increases the chance of supply related outages “considerably,” according to the report.

“Management had consistently reported that the LIL would indeed be available for winter, but there is now a strong possibility that will not be the case,” reads the report.

The report calls on the PUB to have Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro “aggressively demand and monitor action by Nalcor to ensure that Nalcor undertakes all possible actions to minimize further delays in placing the LIL into reliable operation for this coming winter, while at the same time preparing contingency plans for the unavailability or limited reliability of the LIL.”

Without the LIL in operation, the ability to bring in additional recall power from Churchill Falls, which could limit the amount of power supply available during the harsh winter months ahead.

Even if the LIL is brought into service in time for winter, the report expresses doubt it’ll be a smooth first few months of service.

“Whatever the ‘actual’ date of completion and readiness when accepted, we find little likelihood that the LIL will operate reliably in its early months,” reads the report.

“The LIL will remain prone to the uncertainties any new major facility faces early in its operating life, especially one involving technology new to the operating company.”

Concerns over the LIL are made worse by “well known” deterioration of the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station, the Hardwoods, and Stephenville combustion turbines.

The report states “major uncertainty” when it comes to Holyrood, which was at the centre of the 2014 #DarkNL blackouts.

In the face of all that, Stan Marshall says Nalcor is working to get things up and running without any worry of lengthy power outages in the coming months.

"We are taking a deliberate stepped approach to ensure the new transmission assets are successfully integrated into the existing grid without compromising reliability and stability of Hydro’s existing interconnected provincial system,” wrote Marshall in a statement.

“Bringing the Labrador-Island Transmission Link into service for this coming winter in a stepped approach builds upon the reliability of the existing Hydro assets.”

Marshall says the technology is new to the province and getting the LIL online is “complex work that takes time.”

He says Nalcor is working closely with contractor General Electric to ensure the new assets will be functional and reliable in the winter months.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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