Power Struggle: Newfoundland, Quebec square off over hydro

Larry Hughes

Hydro-Quebec spokesman Gary Sutherland claims that the utility’s legal motion to stop Newfoundland and Labrador from redefining the sale of electricity from Churchill Falls to Hydro Quebec has, “nothing to do with Muskrat Falls” (Globe and Mail, 24 July 2013).

Actually, it has everything to do with Muskrat Falls.

In order to meet Nova Scotia’s 40% target of electricity from renewables, Nova Scotia Power will require a stable supply of three terawatt-hours (TWh) of renewable electricity by 2020 — Muskrat Falls and the Maritime Link have been presented as the source of this electricity by both the Nova Scotia government and NSP. However, Nalcor will only guarantee one-TWh, reserving the remaining two-TWh from Muskrat Falls for some combination of its own needs, sale to Nova Scotia, or export.

With access to Churchill Falls, Nalcor could possibly meet NSP’s three-TWh requirement. Without it, NSP will not be able to achieve its 40% renewables target, forcing it to purchase the additional two-TWh from elsewhere — possibly Hydro Quebec.

Ultimately, Nova Scotia is a sideshow. If Newfoundland and Labrador could manage the blocks of electricity it sells to Hydro Quebec, Nalcor would be in a better position to sell electricity to New England, Hydro Quebec’s traditional export market.

Submitted to Globe and Mail 24 July 2013