Emera COO: Work progressing on Maritime transmission link

Work is progressing on the Maritime Link Project in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Emera COO Scott Balfour said on Nov. 13 during the company’s 3Q17 earnings call.

That project is on budget and on track to meet the planned January 2018 in-service date, he said.

“To date, we’ve spent about $1.4 billion of the projected $1.6 billion project cost,” he said.

According to the company’s website, the project involves building 170 kilometers of subsea high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission cables under the Cabot Strait, overhead transmission in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, as well as:

·      Transmission corridors

·      Two switchyards

·      Two converter stations and adjoining substations

·      Two transition compounds

·      Two grounding sites

·      Two onshore anchoring sites

·      Other infrastructure, as required

The project is part of a larger strategy to address the growing demand for more renewable energy, the site noted, adding that the project will enable the transmission of renewable and reliable electricity from Newfoundland and Labrador to Nova Scotia and beyond.

The Maritime Link will allow Nova Scotia to import hydro electricity from the Muskrat Falls generating station in Labrador, which is being developed by Nalcor Energy as part of the Lower Churchill Project, the site noted.

The Maritime Link will be owned and operated by NSP Maritime Link Inc., which is a unit of Emera Newfoundland & Labrador, according to the site.

Under benefits, the site noted that for Nova Scotia, the Maritime Link will create more energy options and reduce dependency on coal-fired generation. In addition, the project will help meet Canadian federal regulations requiring a 50 percent reduction in coal emissions by 2030, and Nova Scotia regulations requiring 40 percent renewable energy by 2020, according to the site.

For Newfoundland and Labrador, the Maritime Link will connect the island of Newfoundland to the North American grid for the first time in history, the site noted, adding that the alternative electrical transmission route will make the abundance of energy in Newfoundland and Labrador available for export to Nova Scotia and beyond.

During the call, Balfour also discussed the Labrador-Island Transmission Link Project, which he said “is now expected to be in service about the middle of next year. Our investment in this project will continue to earn AFUDC earnings until the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project is fully operational, which is now expected to be between mid-2019 and mid-2020.”

According to the website, that project will consist of an HVDC transmission system that will run from central Labrador to Soldiers Pond in Newfoundland. Nalcor Energy will manage and execute the design, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of the Labrador-Island Transmission Link, the site noted.

The Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Generation Project will have a capacity of 824 MW and an expected average energy production of 4.9 TWh, according to the site.

On renewable power, Balfour noted that earlier this month, Florida regulators approved a settlement agreement enabling Tampa Electric to significantly expand its use of solar power. Once the project is installed, Tampa Electric will have the highest percentage of solar energy generation in Florida, he noted, adding that the project results in Tampa Electric investing about US$850m through 2021.

The first phase of the solar construction includes two projects totaling almost 150 MW, and is scheduled to be complete in September 2018, Balfour said.

“The subsequent three phases are scheduled to be complete by Jan. 1 of 2019, 2020, and 2021,” respectively, he said.

He also said that in late July, Emera “responded to the Massachusetts [request for proposals, or] RFP for clean, renewable energy for more than 9 TWh of hydro and onshore wind energy, and 1,600 MW of offshore wind energy.”

Balfour said: “The [Atlantic Link transmission] line would originate in New Brunswick and come ashore in Plymouth, Mass., the site of the soon-to-retire Pilgrim nuclear plant. This allows us to bring power to the Boston load center and avoid congestion in New England, without the need for new terrestrial transmission lines.”

According to the company’s website, the 1,000-MW, HVDC subsea cable – about 375 miles long – will deliver 5.69 TWh of clean energy annually directly to Massachusetts for a 20-year fixed price.

Balfour also noted that Emera is looking at opportunities to displace coal-fired generation at Tampa Electric with lower emission, natural gas-fired generation and even more renewables.

Discussing recent hurricanes, he said that in Tampa, Hurricane Irma resulted in almost 60 percent of Tampa Electric customers losing power. Noting that the company’s “team’s response to the storm was exceptional,” he said that Tampa Electric was the first utility in Florida to have all of its customers’ power restored.

Hurricane Maria hit the island of Dominica with devastating force and left all 36,000 DOMLEC customers without power, he said. Restoration efforts to date have been focused on specific vital services and humanitarian need, he said, adding that the company has “been working with the Government of Dominica as they identify the next priorities for restoration and the magnitude and timeline for these efforts.”

He also noted that Hurricane Matthew, which hit Grand Bahama late last year, continues to have a small impact on load this year.

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Corina Rivera-Linares, chief analyst for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 10 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at corinar@pennwell.com .

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