Maritime Link energy project approved by Nova Scotia's UARB

Nova Scotia's energy regulator has approved the $1.5-billion Maritime Link project to bring hydroelectricity in from Labrador.

Energy regulator had attached a list of conditions to $1.5B energy project

Nova Scotia's energy regulator has approved the $1.5-billion Maritime Link project to bring in hydroelectricity from Labrador.

The Utility and Review Board (UARB) tentatively endorsed the project earlier this year, but it attached a list of conditions to ensure the project doesn't impose a heavy burden on Nova Scotia ratepayers.

On Friday, it released a decision saying the Nova Scotia energy company Emera Inc. and Newfoundland's Nalcor have met its condition for secure access to enough market priced electricity to make the Maritime Link the least expensive option for consumers.

Emera wants to build a subsea cable which that would allow Nova Scotia's electric utility to buy energy from the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric plant in Labrador when it is completed in 2017.

"While the board finds that the Maritime Link project is the lowest long-term cost alternative, it is not on an overwhelming basis," read the decision. "There are various scenarios, within a range of reasonable assumptions that perform almost on an equivalent basis, or even better in a few cases, than the Maritime Link project."

Still, the board found the deal "slightly more robust than the various other alternatives."

Younger says it allows competitive market

Earlier this month, Nova Scotia Energy Minister Andrew Younger came up with his own list of conditions, saying the government is opposed to a revised agreement to proceed with the Maritime Link project because it puts province's ratepayers at risk of having to pay for cost overruns.​

The UARB said it's confident it has addressed the concerns expressed by the new provincial government.

Younger agreed. "What this deal does is it allows the creation of that competitive energy market," he said Friday.

"The board found that this is likely to depress prices for electricity over what they would be otherwise." 

With files from the Canadian Press