Emera claims huge increase in Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity delivery

·3 min read
The Maritime Link was built by Emera subsidiary Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link to bring Muskrat Falls hydro into the province via a 177-kilometre subsea cable across the Cabot Strait. (CBC - image credit)
The Maritime Link was built by Emera subsidiary Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link to bring Muskrat Falls hydro into the province via a 177-kilometre subsea cable across the Cabot Strait. (CBC - image credit)

Halifax-based Emera is reporting a dramatic and timely increase in the amount of Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity flowing from Newfoundland into Nova Scotia over the Maritime Link.

The energy conglomerate says deliveries of the so-called "Nova Scotia Block" were between 70 and 100 per cent of contracted amounts from mid-December to early January.

News of the "greatly-improved situation" came in Emera's final submission to regulators hearing its application to recover $1.7 billion in final costs from Nova Scotia Power ratepayers for the Maritime Link.

During Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board hearings in December, Emera admitted that only 19 per cent of the Nova Scotia Block was delivered between August and November 2021.

That was the result of ongoing software problems on the Newfoundland and Labrador portion of the project, which is owned by Nalcor.

Nova Scotia Power customer groups complained ratepayers were being asked to pay the full cost of the Maritime Link when only a fraction of the promised electricity was being delivered.

Ramped-up deliveries

In December testimony, Nova Scotia Power executive David Landigran predicted deliveries were about to ramp up.

In its final submission, Emera said that has happened.

Paul Withers/CBC
Paul Withers/CBC

"In recent weeks, the full Nova Scotia Block has been delivered as scheduled subject only to limited planned interruptions in light of reduced staffing over the holiday days," Emera said in a Jan. 7 filing.

Nova Scotia Power spokesperson Jacqueline Foster said Tuesday that flows are continuing at levels similar to that mentioned in the Jan. 7 filing.

Muskrat Falls years behind schedule

The Maritime Link was built by Emera subsidiary Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link to bring Muskrat Falls hydro into the province via a 177-kilometre subsea cable across the Cabot Strait.

While Emera's transmission system was built on time and on budget, the Muskrat Falls mega project is years behind schedule.

It was supposed to send 20 per cent of its output and some supplemental electricity — dubbed the Nova Scotia Block — into the province starting in 2018.

The Nova Scotia Block only started to flow in August 2021, under "an acceleration agreement" between Emera and Nalcor that got some power moving with a promise from Nalcor to make up the rest later.

Output was limited by persistent software problems on the Labrador Island Link — a 1,100-kilometre high-voltage DC transmission line from Muskrat Falls in central Labrador, site of the 824-megawatt power-generating station, to Soldiers Pond on the Avalon Peninsula.

Consumer groups say the final bill should wait until the Labrador Island Link — which is still being commissioned — is fully operational.

$205M in extra fuel costs

Since 2018, Nova Scotia Power customers have paid $205 million in extra fuel costs to generate replacement electricity because of failed deliveries from Muskrat Falls.

But with electricity now flowing, Emera is urging regulators to approve its application.

"Since achievement in December of full and sustained delivery of the Nova Scotia Block in accord with the 2013 agreements, Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link believes that it has achieved the appropriate milestone for full cost recovery," it said.

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