Emera's $2B Atlantic Link loses bid for Massachusetts clean energy deal

Northern Pass Transmission was chosen instead of Emera, but the final acceptance of the bid depends on the company's ability to negotiate a contract.

'Emera will continue to advance Atlantic Link,' says company president and CEO Chris Huskilson

Emera's bid to send clean energy directly to Massachusetts through the proposed Atlantic Link failed to proceed to negotiation. (Emera)

Emera's $2-billion Atlantic Link project, a proposed 563-kilometre underwater power transmission cable, has failed to win a deal to bring clean energy to southern Massachusetts.

A news release from Massachusetts Clean Energy on Thursday said Northern Pass Transmission's proposal was chosen, but the final acceptance of that bid depends on regulatory approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

Northern Pass Transmission is a partnership between Hydro-Québec and Eversource, an energy company in New England.

'We think this project has a lot of merit'

Atlantic Link was pitched to carry clean energy, wind power and hydro power from Coleson Cove, N.B., to Plymouth, Mass., through a 1,000-megawatt subsea transmission line as early as 2022.

NB Power would have supplied some of the hydro power and was a potential investor in the Emera bid.

Atlantic Link was pitched to carry clean energy, wind power and hydro power from New Brunswick to Massachusetts. (Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press)

In a news release from Emera on Thursday, president and CEO Chris Huskilson said Emera will continue to advance Atlantic Link.

"We think the project has a lot of merit," Gerald Weseen, Emera's vice-president of U.S. government affairs, told CBC News.

"We'll take some time to review the RFP [request for proposal] outcome and assess that and take a look at the market and future opportunities."

System reliability

The Atlantic Link would be bigger than the $1.7-billion Maritime Link project, which sent electricity for the first time across the transmission line between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in December.

Weseen said Atlantic Link not only has value in delivering clean energy, but also in "system reliability" due to its cable, which would be dug into the ocean floor. This was a point Emera highlighted in its bid, going as far as to say Hydro-Québec's electricity supply may not be as reliable as Emera's in the coming years — a comment that caused some controversy last summer.

Over 40 proposals

The request for proposals came after a bill was passed in Massachusetts in 2016 requiring the procurement of clean energy for the state.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy website notes that more than 40 different bids for the project were received, with companies allowed to submit more than one proposal.

The winning project proposes a transmission line from Quebec to New England to deliver 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectric energy from Hydro-Québec's reservoirs and dams. The project is expected to be up and running by 2020.

The project hangs on approval by the New Hampshire site evaluation committee, which approves all major utility projects in the state. Northern Pass filed an application to the committee in October 2015.

If Northern Pass does not successfully negotiate contracts for its bid, other bids may be selected to advance to contract negotiations, according to Massachusetts Clean Energy.