Quebec won't be at Link hearing2/13/2013
Hydro-Quebec hasn’t signed up to be part of an upcoming hearing on the proposed Maritime Link project.
But that doesn’t mean Quebec’s Crown-owned utility can’t still be part of the process, the consumer advocate said Tuesday.
“I’m not surprised that they haven’t intervened per se,” John Merrick, a Halifax lawyer, said in an interview. “But they may yet surface.”
Monday was the deadline for interveners to file notice with the provincial Utility and Review Board to take part in the hearing.
There are about 25 interveners, according to filings made public Tuesday by the provincial regulator.
A hearing on the project will start May 27 in Halifax.
Merrick said he didn’t expect Hydro-Quebec to formally intervene and volunteer to tell the board whether its electricity may be an alternative to Labrador hydroelectricity.
But the consumer advocate said he plans to approach the electricity giant and ask that very question. “It would be our intention to go to them and ask them to tell us under what terms and conditions they would be prepared to look at supplying some of that power.”
Merrick said he didn’t know what Hydro-Quebec’s response will be. But he said he expects he won’t be the only one contacting the utility looking for the information.
There was no comment Tuesday from Hydro-Quebec on its decision not to intervene or whether it will provide the information that interveners may be requesting.
Hydro-Quebec said last month it was considering being an intervener in the Link hearing because of concerns about the findings of a recent government-funded study.
The report, by Power Advisory LLC, concluded that power from the $7.7-billion Muskrat Falls project would be the cheapest way to meet Nova Scotia’s green energy goals.
The province must also reduce its reliance on coal-fired generation because of new federal greenhouse gas emission rules.
The Massachusetts consulting firm, headed by John Dalton, found that Hydro-Quebec imports would cost $402 million more over a 35-year period than Labrador hydro.
Generating the power in Nova Scotia, by building wind farms and natural-gas plants, would be even more pricey — $1.5 billion higher than paying for the link — the report said.
Hydro-Quebec responded to the study by saying it was “very surprised” by the analysis and conclusions.
The utility didn’t give specific concerns but said it may be part of the regulatory hearing to “present our view” because it wasn’t consulted about the study.
Among those who have signed up to take part in the hearing are wind energy representatives and companies involved in the natural gas business.
Other interveners range from political parties to environmental groups in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Merrick said he hopes participants will present the board with enough information to help it evaluate possible alternatives to building a subsea cable across the Cabot Strait.
The board has until the end of July to decide whether ratepayers should cover the estimated $1.5-billion cost of building a power link between Newfoundland and Cape Breton.
Emera Inc., Nova Scotia Power’s parent company, is partnered with Nalcor Energy, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown-owned utility, on Muskrat Falls. Emera will cover 20 per cent of the project’s cost and receive 20 per cent of the electricity for 35 years.
If ratepayers fund the cable, the province would get Emera’s share of the power at a fixed price for the 35 years — enough electricity to meet eight to 10 per cent of the province’s annual supply. There is also an option to buy more at market prices.
(The Chronicle Herald)