Canadian utility hints at deals with U.S.; Talks are underway about a new transmission line across Maine
An official with an eastern Canadian electric utility that wants to sell its excess power in the United States says there are more deals in the works for new transmission lines through New England to reach those markets.
For now, though, the general manager of energy marketing for Nalcor Energy, based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, which is in the process of building thousands of megawatts of hydroelectric and wind-power capacity in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, isn’t identifying any of the proposals that would help the utility sell its electricity to potential customers in the region and New York.
Some of that power could be transmitted to the United States via Quebec, but Nalcor is preparing to build undersea power lines that would cross from the mainland of Labrador, to the island of Newfoundland and then just over 100 miles of another undersea connection between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, where the line would be connected to that province’s electric grid and eventually reach the U.S. border in eastern Maine.
“Getting us to the border of New England is interesting, but it doesn’t do the job,” said Greg Jones, the general manager of energy marketing for Nalcor. “To bring 2,200 megawatts of power or 1,000 megawatts of power into Maine really doesn’t do much for us. We need a large customer base that recognizes the value that long-term, stable prices will bring.”
At present, there are no public proposals that would add a new transmission line across Maine, but discussions are underway, Jones said.
“We are engaged with some of the major players in the New England states,” Jones said.
He made the comments Friday, a day after a New York company announced it was proposing a 150-mile power line that would run from the Canadian border down Lake Champlain and then east across Vermont, where it could link with the New England power grid.
The same individuals behind the Lake Champlain proposal released this week are planning a similar project that would run down the western side of Lake Champlain and then the Hudson River before delivering power to New York City. In New Hampshire, the Northern Pass project would build a 180-mile power line from Quebec through the North Country to take power south.
It’s part of a broader push to find ways to deliver eastern Canadian power to U.S. markets. The issue is well known among utility professionals and it is a regular topic of conversation at meetings of the Eastern Canadian Premiers and New England Governors.
“Generally, since at least 1980, Hydro-Quebec and other eastern Canadian utilities and their provincial governments have been pretty clear about their interest to export power to the United States,” said Rich Sedeno, the director of U.S. programs for the Regulatory Assistance Project, which focuses on energy issues. “Any energy project developer has somewhere in their process a big map and the maps shows sources of supply and demand. Whether they’re trying to build gas pipelines or electric transmission, they are trying to figure out how to be the low-cost deliverer of energy to demand centers.”
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