PORT AUX BASQUES — It was a long, quiet day for officials with Emera at an open house in Port aux Basques, but there was at least a little feedback for them to consider.
Burgeo-La Poile Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons was one of only two people to attend the day-long public consultation by early evening, according to company communications director Jeff Myrick. The other person was a representative of the Fish Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union, whom he said the company has had ongoing consultations with throughout the process of trying to establish the proposed Maritime Link Transmission Project.
Parsons said it is his responsibility as MHA to attend such information sessions to become better informed on behalf of his constituents. However, he also made no qualms about his personal opinion of the transmission link and the connection to the Muskrat Falls development.
"I am not in favour of the deal as structured," he said. "There are too many concerns that have not been addressed yet."
Parsons said the whole process in relation to Muskrat Falls has been mishandled, and that anybody opposed to it has been chastised by the provincial government.
"If this project is as good as they say it is, it is going to stand on its own," he said. "You don't have to remove scrutiny from it."
The MHA said this particular link is a bit different than the overall project, because it is dealing with Emera and the link with Nova Scotia, but he said they are all connected.
"I am wondering, as a taxpayer in this province, what is it going to cost us and what are we going to get from this project?" he said.
Meanwhile, Myrick said Emera officials are holding the public consultations as part of the environmental assessment process, but also to gather information and feedback from the public themselves. Consultations have been ongoing, with previous meetings with political and business representatives, as well as other stakeholder groups, in these areas previously. The open house sessions with the public were held in Cape Breton last week.
The route for the transmission link begins in the Granite Canal, with a high-voltage alternating current (AC) transmission wire, going west toward the Burgeo Highway to Bottom Brook near Stephenvillle Crossing. There is an existing Nalcor substation there, where a converter station is being proposed to turn AC power into direct current. The direct current will be taken from Bottom Brook to Cape Ray and onto a subsea cable across the Cabot Strait to Cape Breton and a the Woodbine facility owned by Nova Scotia Power to be converted back to high voltage AC.
Myrick was not particularly deterred by the low turnout at the Port aux Basques session.
"This is more of a testament to the amount of activity we have done in the community already," he said.
Myrick and Parsons are expecting a much bigger turnout at the consultation today in the Cape Ray area. There is another in Stephenville Wednesday.