Nova Scotia

Emera CEO says Quebec key to power in N.S.

The CEO of Emera says the proposed $6.2-billion Muskrat Falls hydroelectric deal with Newfoundland and Labrador doesn't mean the Nova Scotia-based energy company isn't interested in power from Quebec.

The CEO of Emera says the proposed $6.2-billion Muskrat Falls hydroelectric deal with Newfoundland and Labrador doesn't mean the Nova Scotia-based energy company isn't interested in power from Quebec.

Chris Huskilson told a Nova Scotia legislature committee Thursday that Quebec's wealth of hydroelectricity will provide a source of the province's future energy supply.

'Quebec will be part of the solution'— Chris Huskilson, Emera CEO

"Quebec will be part of the solution … I think in the long-term," Huskilson said. "But we have to do all the things necessary to make that possible."

Huskilson said there would need to be a deal with New Brunswick to strengthen its transmission capacity and the links between Quebec and the Maritimes before any large-scale deal with Hydro-Quebec.

He also told the committee that proceeding with the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador wasn't a matter of rejecting Quebec, saying the deal "was the simplest arrangement we could do that could get done and could make a huge difference to the Nova Scotia circumstance."

Some critics of Muskrat Falls say Nova Scotia could buy power from Quebec that's cheaper than the cost of moving ahead with the massive project.

But Huskilson said the costs would be similar because of the amount of work required to upgrade transmission capacity, though he didn't provide specific cost estimates.

He said Muskrat Falls would help Emera comply with the province's legislated target of getting 40 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The project is expected to supply Nova Scotia with about eight to 10 per cent of its total energy needs.

"Up until this project came to us we had no idea how we were going to get above 30 per cent renewables in this province because most of the renewable opportunities that we have are intermittent," Huskilson said.

Lack of transparency

But Brennan Vogel of the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre said he remains skeptical about the company's assertions about importing Quebec power because he says there's been a lack of transparency on costs.

"There's been no impartial degree of scrutiny by a third party," said Vogel.

He said he believes making upgrades to transmission links to the Maritimes would pale to the $1.2 billion that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador estimate it would cost to build the subsea cable link from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland.

Liberal member Andrew Younger said the province could be more open to Quebec as a possible cheap source of electricity.

"The shame is that Churchill Falls does not come on line until 2017, maybe even later, and we have an opportunity to be bringing in lower cost cleaner energy to compliment the future use of Churchill Falls," said Younger.

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