UPDATE: Nalcor CEO responds to N.S. regulatory review

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Nova Scotia regulator approves $1.5-B Muskrat Falls hydro subsea cable

Muskrat Falls. — File photo

Nalcor president and CEO Ed Martin says the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board (UARB) decision on the Maritime Link is still under review, but he provided some early thoughts, speaking with reporters in St. John’s at about 3 p.m.today.

“We welcome today’s decision by the UARB in Nova Scotia,” he said.

He said the decision states running power from Newfoundland and Labrador over the Maritime Link and into Nova Scotia represents the lowest-cost option for that province to meet its energy needs.

He also acknowledged the finding by the UARB has a qualifier: it is dependent on a supplementary agreement, whereby more power is secured for use in Nova Scotia if needed, above and beyond what is promised under the current Muskrat Falls contracts.

Martin said Nalcor Energy is willing to deal for more power, but said Nova Scotia’s Emera is also able to secure power from another source.

He said he did not want to make any decisions for Emera.

In a statement, Emera has said the UARB decision is under review.

As for what a deal with Nova Scotia for more power might look like, Martin said the Crown corporation is interested in getting “an appropriate economic return” for Newfoundland and Labrador in the case of a sale of Muskrat Falls power considered to be over and above what the province needs.

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(Earlier story)

Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board has approved a proposal to build a subsea cable to ship hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls in Labrador to Nova Scotia.

The board made its decision conditional on the the project obtaining from Nalcor Energy the right to access the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown utility’s market-priced energy.

The board was asked to decide whether constructing the cable, known as the Maritime Link, was the cheapest long-term alternative for the province’s electricity users and whether it meets requirements on the release of air pollutants.

During hearings earlier this year, consumer and small business advocates in Nova Scotia questioned whether the proposal by a subsidiary of Emera Inc. (TSX:EMA) would benefit electricity customers, who would foot the bill for the $1.5-billion project.

Opponents also doubted assertions from Emera and Premier Darrell Dexter that the project would stabilize electricity rates in the future.

But Emera has argued that Muskrat Falls would serve about 10 per cent of Nova Scotia’s power needs, bringing clean energy into the province.

Nova Scotia’s opposition parties have also voiced their objections to the proposal, saying it warranted greater scrutiny by the government.

Construction of Muskrat Falls is underway in Labrador with the $7.7-billion venture scheduled to generate power by 2017.

Organizations: Utility and Review Board, Nova Scotia.The board, Newfoundland and Labrador Crown Maritime Link TSX

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, B Muskrat Falls, Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Tony Rockel
    July 22, 2013 - 21:03

    "As for what a deal with Nova Scotia for more power might look like, Martin said the Crown corporation is interested in getting “an appropriate economic return” for Newfoundland and Labrador in the case of a sale of Muskrat Falls power considered to be over and above what the province needs." -An appropriate economic return for whom, Ed? Certainly not for the people of this province other than a tiny, exclusive elite. "Over and above what the province needs"? More likely "over and above" what the ratepayers can afford!

  • Scott
    July 22, 2013 - 19:17

    LOL..Really...This to funny to think about...Talking about taxpayers right...To Maggy Carter & Kathleen Fillmore...TRAGEDY did take place on July 5/2013...When the Liberal DENIED Mr Murphy the right to run in the Liberal Leadership race... Kathleen did the Liberal come clean...Concerning Mr Murphy NOMINATION paper you ask for...Or are they using BILL 29.. Maggy if you took the time to ask Mr Murphy...Where did he stay on MUSKRAT FALLS...You be surprise what he know about the project...

  • Charles
    July 22, 2013 - 18:58

    Please don't get out of control...Just because Nalcor wasn't there for the people...And now Nova Scotia is trying to take ADVANTAGE OF US...Let take this lemon and turn it into lemonade...

  • Kathleen Fillmore
    July 22, 2013 - 14:56

    ..........a tragedy is unfolding, for sure......and Man's Greed is once again at the helm!

  • Taxpayer
    July 22, 2013 - 14:10

    I'm just waiting to hear from John "The Oracle" Smith about how we don't need Nova Scotia for this project to continue. And continue it will.

  • Eli
    July 22, 2013 - 13:56

    I'd say it's hard to believe such fiasco could be foisted on the people of NL in this day and age. But then I read about the crookery in Quebec.

  • Maggy Carter
    July 22, 2013 - 13:15

    The ball is now back in NALCOR's court. ... Nova Scotia's UARB has seized on a relatively simple device to turn the tables on NFP, EMERA, NALCOR and the NS as well as NL governments. The UARB concluded that the ML deal - as presented for its approval - does not represent the lowest cost power option for Nova Scotians. This is despite the fact that the deal would have given Nova Scotian ratepayers power from Muskrat at prices far below those NALCOR will charge Newfoundlanders (the people who theoretically own the resource). So the UARB has told EMERA that, if it still wants to proceed with the Maritime Link, it will have to renegotiate its deal with NALCOR to give Nova Scotia an even better deal. An even better deal for Nova Scotia will mean, of course, an even worse deal for Newfoundland. How's that for throwing the cat among the pigeons? ..... As the head of the Liberal party in Nova Scotia has already pointed out, they've got NALCOR (that's us) over a proverbial barrel. He's alluding to the fact that, since the project is already well underway, NALCOR might have little choice but to say yes. So folks - especially those of you having a hard time keeping up with your power bills now - get ready to dig even deeper into your pockets to subsidize the electric bills of your cousins in Nova Scotia.

  • Tony Rockel
    July 22, 2013 - 11:37

    .....and so the tragedy unfolds.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    July 22, 2013 - 10:57

    Quote from NS Decision .........."Until 2041, when Newfoundland and Labrador’s Churchill Falls arrangement with Hydro Quebec comes to a conclusion, the availability of Market-priced Energy from Nalcor is an issue of “substantial uncertainty”. ........ Furthermore, the Maritime Link approval is contingent on Nalcor contractually guaranteeing that additional market priced power will be provided before 2041. Clearly, ML approval is contingent on the actual legal and financial risk associated with that energy uncertainty (and the risk for NS ratepayers) being removed from NS ratepayers by shifting it to Nalcor --- and in turn, to NL ratepayers. What if the Water Management Agreement is successfully challenged by HQ in court and Muskrat cannot deliver the power? What about Labrador's mining needs? Nalcor (NL ratepayers/ government) will have to either provide the power or compensate NS.