Posted: Nov 18, 2010, 12:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: St. John's
The Lower Churchill Project
I thought a thread on the Lower Churchill project would be appropriate in the Atlantic Canadian section seeing it is becoming an Atlantic Canadian project and not just a Newfoundland and Labrador project
N.L., Emera reach Lower Churchill hydro deal
Newfoundland and Labrador has finalized a deal to develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project with Emera Energy of Nova Scotia, CBC News has learned.
Details are expected to be announced at a news conference in St. John's on Thursday.
Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador's Crown-owned energy corporation, has been in discussion with Emera and the Maritime provinces about a plan to funnel hydroelectric power from the Churchill River in Labrador through Newfoundland and then into Nova Scotia.
Premier Danny Williams is expected to disclose details of the deal on Thursday in St. John's, CBC has been told, and is scheduled to be joined by Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter.
Asked to respond by CBC News, Williams's office said it had no comment.
Later, however, the government announced that a technical briefing on an unnamed topic would be held Thursday morning at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown St. John's, to be followed by a "special announcement" involving Williams.
The deal involves developing about 800 megawatts of power at Muskrat Falls, one of two long-proposed sites in the Lower Churchill project. A much larger site, at Gull Island, is being shelved for now.
Nalcor believes a smaller approach is still viable because there is an immediately available market.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the project would provide energy to mothball the Holyrood generating station, which burns bunker fuel for power. In Nova Scotia, the power could be used to replace the use of coal.
However, power could also be exported to New Brunswick and possibly to the United States.
Williams and Nalcor have focused on a Maritime route for moving Labrador power after failing to win favour — at least on terms that Newfoundland and Labrador will accept — with Quebec.
Williams said earlier this year that Quebec "shafted" attempts to transfer Lower Churchill power across Quebec and into markets in Ontario and the U.S.
The federal government has been asked for $375 million in support for an underwater hydro link to Nova Scotia through an existing infrastructure program.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the proposal, which drew criticism from the government of Quebec, will be judged on its merits.
Lower Churchill deal would boost Atlantic economy, Nova Scotia premier saysHALIFAX - A deal to develop the proposed Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador would be a vital boost to Atlantic Canada's economy, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said Wednesday amid reports an agreement has been reached.
Dexter said there was still work to do before he could confirm reports that Emera Inc. (TSX: EMA.TO), the owner of Nova Scotia Power, has signed a deal with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to develop 800 megawatts of power at Muskrat Falls and transmit it to his province.
But if finalized, the deal could herald major economic change for the East Coast, Dexter said.
"We are in a position where we have the opportunity to make an historic change in the economic fundamentals of our region and I would like to allow that to come to an orderly conclusion," Dexter said.
"I rely on many years of experience in negotiations, which tells me that you may believe that you have agreement right up to the last minute and then something goes south."
In recent weeks, Premier Danny Williams has publicly mused that a deal was near completion that would see the construction of subsea cables. Those cables would carry hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
On Wednesday, Williams reiterated his past comments that both provinces were working towards a deal.
"That was the truth then, that is the truth now," he said in St. John's, N.L. "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."
Emera and Nalcor Energy — the Crown-owned utility for Newfoundland and Labrador — also declined comment. But Williams and Dexter have scheduled a news conference for Thursday in St. John's to announce what Dexter's office is calling a "significant energy partnership."
In June, both provinces made a joint request for $375 million from Ottawa for a subsea power cable connecting the two provinces.
"We have not heard from them with respect to that application, I suspect, in part, because they would want to see what the final agreement looks like," said Dexter.
The cost of the cable project isn't known but a SNC-Lavalin study has estimated it would be between $800 million to $1.2 billion.
Emera has been in negotiations to develop Lower Churchill power since a memorandum of understanding was signed in January 2008. Nalcor officials have said it would take about five years to get energy flowing to Nova Scotia once a deal is signed.
Dexter said such a deal would guarantee access to clean, renewable power and be a potential revenue generator if the electricity is sold elsewhere, such as the lucrative and energy-hungry markets of the northeastern United States.
"These kinds of projects cover generations," he said. "You can imagine having some component of your energy portfolio that is stable for many, many years."
Last month, Williams announced he was pursuing the Lower Churchill project in two phases. He said his plan was to build a generating station at Muskrat Falls, followed by a larger facility upriver at Gull Island.
The multibillion-dollar project has been on the drawing board in one form or another for decades. In 1980, it passed an environmental assessment but was set aside due to concerns over market access and financing.
Concerns over the loss of habitat that would result from the development of the project have also stalled its progress. But Nalcor has promised to develop a compensation plan to make up for that.
The desire to build more power plants on the Churchill River in central Labrador can be traced back to 1972, when the Churchill Falls hydroelectric dam was finished with Quebec's help.
Under that deal, which doesn't expire until 2041 and is often criticized by Williams, Quebec has reaped more than $19 billion in profits while Newfoundland has pocketed only $1 billion, according to the Newfoundland and Labrador government. As a result of that deal, Newfoundland and Labrador has sought an alternate route for Lower Churchill power that bypasses Quebec.
In February 2009, Nalcor said the overall project would cost about $10 billion to build and transmit 3,074 megawatts of energy — enough capacity to supply the energy needs of about 1.5 million homes.