Nova Scotia approves power link with Newfoundland

July 24 Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:15pm EDT

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July 24 (Reuters) - Nova Scotia utility regulators approved a C$1.52 billion undersea power transmission line between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the first link between the two Canadian provinces.

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) on Monday approved the 500-megawatt Maritime Link transmission line subject to certain conditions, including an assurance additional market-priced energy will be made available to the province, Nova Scotia energy company Emera Inc said in a release.

One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.

"The conditions require further analysis and discussion and we will take the time required to do so. In the meantime we continue to refine final construction estimates and work continues on the project," Chris Huskilson, President and CEO of Emera, said in a release.

A unit of Emera filed for permission to build the transmission line with Nova Scotia regulators in January. The regulator held hearings on the project in June, Emera said.

Emera said the UARB approval was the second of two regulatory approvals for the Maritime Link this year. Canadian and provincial environmental regulators approved of the project in June.

Maritime Link is a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line between Nova Scotia and the island of Newfoundland. It includes two 180-kilometer (112 mile) subsea cables across the Cabot Strait, with almost 50 km of overland transmission in Nova Scotia and close to another 300 km of overland transmission on Newfoundland.

The project is expected to create about 1,350 direct and indirect person years of employment in the region during the three year construction process, Emera said on its website.

Emera expects to start construction in 2013 with first power planned for delivery in 2017, according to the website.

Emera said the power would come from Newfoundland and Labrador province-owned energy company Nalcor Energy or some other entity.

Nalcor is developing the giant Lower Churchill Falls power project in Labrador in two phases.

The first phase, expected to cost about C$7.4 billion, includes construction of an 824-MW hydropower plant at Muskrat Falls; a transmission line connecting Muskrat Falls to Nalcor's existing 5,428-MW Churchill Falls hydropower plant; and a 1,100-km HVDC transmission line capable of moving 900 MW of power from Muskrat Falls to the island of Newfoundland.

Emera and Nalcor agreed in 2012 that Emera would invest 20 percent of the total cost of developing phase one of Lower Churchill and build the Maritime Link in return for 20 percent of the energy from Muskrat Falls for 35 years.

In the second phase of the Lower Churchill project, Nalcor wants to build a 2,250-MW hydropower plant at Gull Island.

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