ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
Getting green energy throughout Atlantic Canada was the top priority Atlantic Canadian premiers during their two-day meeting in St. John’s.
Premier Dwight Ball, chair of the Council of Atlantic Premiers, hosted the conference.
Early portions of the meeting discussed upgrading the electric transmission system throughout the region to allow Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to move away from carbon-intensive energy sources, such as coal, and move toward renewable-energy sources, specifically hydroelectricity.
In 2017, 55 per cent of Nova Scotia’s electricity came from coal power plants.
“I, for one, look forward to the day that we can buy more hydroelectricity from Newfoundland and Labrador.” — Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil
There were no on-paper agreements on upgrades to the transmission system throughout the region from the most recent meeting, but the premiers agreed to “move forward in an expeditious manner on new clean, reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity generation, improving transmission networks, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region.”
Where the energy comes from is part of the question.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says while each province has electricity they would like to sell to one another, the approach at the bargaining table is about collaboration.
“I don’t think we’re competing against one another, we’re not each other’s enemy here. I think you look across the region – including Quebec, quite honestly – we collectively, together if we have the right transmission system, capital to commit to invest in generation, you’d be able to feed into that marketplace and bring back much-needed money that could be spent in the region,” said McNeil.
“I, for one, look forward to the day that we can buy more hydroelectricity from Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King echoed McNeil’s sentiments.
“I don’t think it’s always what’s best for Dwight, at my expense. That’s not the approach this table has taken. I think it’s important for Atlantic Canadians to understand that. We come at this from a position of strong Canadians first and foremost,” King said.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault was also at the meeting of Atlantic premiers, as Quebec is already a major seller of electricity into the region.
On Jan. 10, The Canadian Press reported the extension of a deal between Hydro-Québec and New Brunswick that will see Quebec export 47 terawatts of electricity into New Brunwick until 2040, extending an existing deal between the provinces put in place in 2012.
Legault says it’s a minor deal for his province.
In a statement, Nalcor Energy – which hopes to sell excess energy from the 824-megawatt Muskrat Falls generating station into Atlantic Canada – says the HydroQuébec deal will not affect its bargaining strategy to get energy supply deals in place.
“The recent announcement between Hydro-Québec and New Brunswick Power is aligned with the work Nalcor and other Atlantic Canadian utilities are doing together on the Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee,” reads the Nalcor statement.
“Upgrading that transmissions system is to all of our best interest.” — New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs
“The agreement between these two utilities does not have an impact on Nalcor’s plans for transmission of hydro power from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Northeast energy markets.”
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says the agreement shows New Brunswick’s willingness to import green electricity and reduce its carbon footprint.
“What this does is gives us kind of an opportunity to show we’re connected for clean-energy sources. There’s different ways for us to be connected, but certainly having clean energy that comes from many multitude of directions, and also allows us to feed into New England because we have that,” he said.
“Upgrading that transmissions system is to all of our best interest.”
Ball says Newfoundland and Labrador has a lot of green energy to export, but the infrastructure needs to be in place.
“We have a lot of stranded assets when it comes to green energy in our province,” he said.
“The whole idea here is partnerships, put the transmission system in place, give Atlantic Canadians the opportunity to plug into what will be affordable, clean, green energy, regardless of which Atlantic Canadian province you’re in.”