Dry weather could see Newfoundland buying power from Maritimes and beyond
The Maritime Link is being constructed to export Muskrat Falls power to the Maritimes, but one of its first uses could be to import power to Newfoundland.
In a report to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) in February, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said if weather continues to be dry it is prepared to use the Maritime Link and Labrador-Island Link to import up to 500 megawatts of power.
The report was released to CBC through access to information.
Much of Newfoundland's power comes from the Bay d'Espoir generating station. That's a problem when precipitation is light, like this year, where Hydro is burning significantly more oil at Holyrood because the reservoir is low.
Right now the Maritime Link and Labrador-Island Link are scheduled to be completed in 2017, but Muskrat Falls won't be producing power until 2018 at the earliest.
That has Nalcor planning to use the export power lines to import power.
"The Maritime Link has a technical capability to deliver up to 300 MW to the Bottom Brook terminal station" the report says. That would let Hydro buy power from one of the Maritime provinces or beyond and rely less on Bay d'Espoir.
Hydro can also use 200 megawatts of recall power from Churchill Falls, brought in through the Labrador-Island Link. Right now that power is sold to outside buyers and shipped out through Quebec.
"The amount of energy to make up for a dry period can be obtained with a high degree of confidence between Holyrood and the two HVdc (high voltage, direct current) links," the report says.
But even Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro isn't planning on Muskrat Falls work being completed on time.
"Hydro is developing its 2016 monthly reservoir storage level targets assuming continued isolated Island operation with no energy imports through to the end of spring 2019," said the Feb. report.