Canada needs a national policy to tear down barriers for electricity trade among provinces to fuel the construction of an east-west transmission grid, Kathy Dunderdale, Natural Resources Minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, said yesterday.
Ms. Dunderdale met yesterday with Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan and native leaders, including former Northwest Territories premier, Stephen Kakfwi, to urge the development of a “green power corridor” that would deliver electricity from hydro and wind power from northern Canada to energy-hungry cities.
Newfoundland is eager to develop the 2,500-megawatt Lower Churchill project in Labrador – which could be expanded to include wind power – but has no access to southern markets.
The province has filed a submission with Quebec regulatory officials to require Hydro-QuÃ©bec to deliver Lower Churchill power to markets through its transmission system. U.S. regulators require any utility selling into the United States to deliver power on behalf of a third party, but Canada has no such rules.
“We have more barriers to electricity trade in Canada than we do in the United States,” Ms. Dunderdale said.
“While there are some physical tie-ins, an open, transparent interprovincial electricity market has not developed in Canada.”
Mr. Duncan likened the construction of an east-west power grid to the building of the railway in the 19th century as a national project that would bind the country together.
“Building an interprovincial green power corridor is as important to Canada today as was the building of the railway in the 19th century by the founders of our country,” Mr. Duncan said at a news conference in Ottawa.
Ontario has said it will use part of a $586-million environment grant from the federal government to begin construction of a transmission line from northern Manitoba to bring in clean hydro power.
Mr. Duncan has visited the Upper Churchill project, which generates 7,500 megawatts, and would be interested in purchasing power from Newfoundland if an agreement can be reached with Quebec to deliver the power.
He said the province could purchase up to 10,000 megawatts of power from new, clean sources, including hydro and wind, if the infrastructure is built to deliver it. Even with those construction costs, he said, the clean power would be competitive with many of options the province faces in its quest to meet rising demand.
Mr. Kakfwi said native communities are prepared to co-operate with the construction of transmission lines through their land, so long as they see economic benefits flowing to their people.
“We are in desperate need of a decisive national policy on energy infrastructure.”
By Shawn McCarthy
20 April 2007
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