The parent company of Nova Scotia Power has teamed up with New York’s largest electricity producer in a bid to build a $2-billion underground power line from northern Maine to Boston, the companies announced Wednesday.
National Grid will join Emera Inc. and its subsidiary, Bangor Hydro, and Spectra Energy, owners of the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline, to evaluate the feasibility of a new electric transmission line from northern Maine and the Maritimes to supply energy to the southern New England market.
The so-called Northeast Energy Link transmission connection has an in-service date of 2012 and would be built in a multi-phase project that would initially provide for 660 megawatts of electricity from Atlantic Canada and northern Maine directly to Massachusetts.
Requirements in New England to use more renewable energy and a predicted shortfall of up to 10,000 megawatts of electricity in Boston and Connecticut are the key drivers in building this new highway for energy, Jennifer Nicholson, Emera’s investor relations director, said Wednesday.
Emera made a presentation about the large transmission project to the planning advisory council of ISO New England, which manages the electricity grid in the U.S. northeast. ISO put out requests for proposals for a new power line last year.
Ms. Nicholson said the ISO New England has received at least five proposals, and a decision on the successful bidder is expected to be made sometime next year.
“The concept is a holistic approach with an aim at increasing imports and renewable energy from northern Maine and Canada, increasing diversity of supply to New England and reducing prices in New England,” according to Emera’s presentation to ISO New England in December.
The Northeast Energy Link would provide the New England market with new clean power from wind projects in Nova Scotia, including; tidal power, wind power and possibly electricity from the development of the Lower Churchill Falls in Newfoundland and Labrador, she said.
“National Grid has significant electric transmission experience and a strong market presence in New England,” said Chris Huskilson, Emera CEO. “This complements Emera’s market position in Atlantic Canada and Maine. Working together with National Grid we intend to play a role in New England’s future transmission development plans.”
Ms. Nicholson said Emera will continue to look for other partners for the project, but its share of the huge development will be 25 per cent to 33 per cent, or $500 million to $700 million.
Emera argues its bid to build the 320-kilometre power line from Orrington, Me., to Boston offers many benefits, including increased trade and investments involving Atlantic Canada and New England; support for New England’s renewable portfolio standard targets; stable electricity costs for all customers in New England; and increased reliability within the ISO region and the Maritime provinces.
National Grid delivers electricity to about 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority. It is also the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeast U.S., serving about 3.4 million customers in those four states.
By Judy Myrden
20 March 2008
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