Nova Scotia

N.S. not interested in deal to replace Maritime Link

Nova Scotia was not interested in a deal with Hydro-Québec to replace the Maritime Link deal with Labrador, according to letters from Nova Scotia's premier to the premier of Quebec last year.

Letters show N.S. premier interested in Hydro-Québec only as secondary power source

The 180-kilometre cable, could see as much as 40 per cent of the electricity from the 824-megawatt project in Newfoundland and Labrador moved to Cape Breton. (CBC)

Nova Scotia was not interested in a deal with Hydro-Québec to replace the Maritime Link deal with Newfoundland and Labrador, according to letters from Nova Scotia’s premier to the premier of Quebec last year.

Premier Darrell Dexter has made two letters public between himself and former Quebec Premier Jean Charest regarding the possibility of a deal between Hydro-Québec and Nova Scotia.

In the first letter dated Apr. 17, 2012, Dexter asked Charest whether Quebec and Hydro-Québec, "are prepared to enter into a long-term power agreement equivalent to that between Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nalcor and Emera."

Just a week later, Dexter suggested a meeting with Charest to discuss the possibility of using Hydro-Québec, not as an alternative to the Maritime Link but as a supplement.

"This discussion would be within the framework that such power would not be a substitute for Lower Churchill power, would flow subsequent to the Lower Churchill project commission and would not change it impact the agreement between Emera Inc. and Nalcor Energy for Lower Churchill power, an agreement to which we have committed," Dexter wrote to Charest in a letter dated Apr. 25, 2012.

It’s not clear what changed between Apr. 17 and Apr. 25, 2012.

Along with the letters, Dexter released a statement about his correspondence with Charest.

"I wanted to be clear with Premier Charest that Nova Scotia was open to a long-term power arrangement with Quebec, in addition to Muskrat Falls, if it would also strengthen the Nova Scotia economy," said Dexter.

"We are open to other energy options that can add power to the more competitive market being created by Muskrat Falls and the significant local wind, biomass and tidal energy Nova Scotians are building."

The letters were made public after Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie appeared before the Maritime Link hearing asking Emera to release the premier’s correspondence with Hydro Quebec.

Emera has said previously the reason it did not consider Hydro-Québec for a competitive bid was because back in 2009 the utility said it was not interested.

Nova Scotia Power’s parent company Emera continues to field questions at public meetings about whether building a subsea cable is the best deal for ratepayers.

Some have questioned whether Emera tried hard enough to get a competitive price from Hydro-Québec.

The subsea cable will cost ratepayers an estimated $1.5 billion to import energy from Labrador to Nova Scotia.

The 180-kilometre cable, could see as much as 40 per cent of the electricity from the 824-megawatt project in Newfoundland and Labrador moved to Cape Breton. It's the largest investment Emera has ever made.

The project could see ratepayers footing the bill for the next 35 years. Emera said the project would add $1.50 per month to the average household's power bill over the first five years.

Muskrat Falls is expected to produce power by late 2017.

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