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Newfoundland and Labrador moves to enshrine open access for energy transmission

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady speaks to reporters outside the House of Assembly in St. John’s Monday.
Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady speaks to reporters outside the House of Assembly in St. John’s Monday. - Joe Gibbons

Legislation supports a system operator, transit of power on the grid

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has introduced legislative amendments to support a new energy system operator for the province and enshrine the principle of open access for the transmission of power.

“An open access transmission regime is an important component of broadening participation in both import and export electricity markets,” said Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady, in speaking to reporters about the proposed changes Monday.

There was a requirement for the province to establish a written guarantee of “open, non-discriminatory and non-preferential” access to the system for the movement of power.

Basically, if Newfoundland and Labrador is able to wheel power through Quebec and the Maritimes, the expectation is utilities there (or elsewhere) should — at least in principle — be able to do the same within the new, interconnected Newfoundland and Labrador.

The changes are spelled out in Bill 2, a collection of amendments to the provincial Electrical Power Control Act and the Public Utilities Act, which receiving second reading in the House of Assembly Monday afternoon.

The Newfoundland and Labrador System Operator is a division of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but with independent activities and responsibilities, managing use of the province’s main lines.

That includes, through the Public Utilities Board (PUB), establishing the transmission tariff to be applied in moving electricity through the province. Setting of the tariff includes establishing the fees, conditions of service and relevant policies.

The amendments include provisions for challenging the tariff.

They also provide for the PUB to hear complaints against the system operator.

The changes are meant to bring the province into compliance with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“Without providing this sort of open access transmission system, we would risk our ability to trade electricity in a manner that gives us access to as many customers as possible,” Coady said.

The changes will not allow for any immediate reduction in the power rates expected for individuals in the province, Coady said, largely as a result of the overall cost and financial arrangements for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

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