Energy giant Emera Inc. is upping the amount of electricity it wants to carry on its proposed $2-billion Atlantic Link energy corridor from New Brunswick to Massachusetts.
The approximately 563-kilometre high-voltage direct current transmission line and its two converter stations, one at Coleson Cove and the other in Boston near the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, was originally expected to carry 900 megawatts of clean energy when it was announced in January.
That energy load has now been beefed up to 1,000 megawatts in the wake of a spate of proposals by other private companies in Atlantic Canada to supply that energy.
Robin McAdam, Emera’s vice-president of major developments, said it only made sense to increase the Atlantic Link’s capacity given the number and size of the proposals to generate green energy for the project.
The energy corridor is slated for completion in late 2022, he said.
“We’ve got about 2.5 years of permitting work and about three years of construction . . . so we’re looking to start construction in 2020,” said McAdam in an interview Friday.
With the completion of its Maritime Link energy transmission project, which links Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, Emera is expecting to simply be able to move the management and professional staff it needs over from that project to the Atlantic Link and again use contractors.
Under state law, companies that distribute electricity in Massachusetts will have to provide a total of about 1,600 megawatts of wind energy by 2027.
That’s the reason the state and those companies have issued what has been called the Massachusetts Clean Energy request for proposals.
And it is that need Emera is trying to fill with its Atlantic Link project, which is being managed by one of the company’s subsidiaries, Clean Power Northeast Development.
In its proposal, Emera lists projects which would have a peak capacity of 1,200 megawatts from seven yet-to-be-built wind farms, including two in Nova Scotia and five in New Brunswick.
The proposal also includes commitments of electricity from Newfoundland’s Nalcor Energy and New Brunswick’s NB Power.
The proposed wind farms in Nova Scotia would have a combined capacity of 303.4 megawatts. EDF EN Canada is planning to create 156 megawatts of electrical generating capacity with its Yorkshire wind farm. And Stan Mason’s Katalyst Wind, Elemental Energy and 3G Energy Corp. would team up for the Higgins Mountain II wind farm project for another 148.2 megawatts of capacity.
The lion’s share of the wind energy generation would come from five proposed wind farms in New Brunswick that could generate up to 891.25 megawatts of electricity. These include Natural Forces Wind and Enercon Canada’s Salmon River project, and SWEB Development and Black & McDonald Ltd.’s Black Spruce wind farm. Renewable Energy Systems Canada has two projects, the Colborne wind farm which would have a capacity roughly equal to the Yorkshire development, and the proposed Silver Brook project. Natural Forces Wind and Enercon Canada would go ahead with their Andy’s Pond wind farm.
In total, these wind energy projects represent another about $2 billion of investment, confirmed McAdam.
With the Atlantic Link, Emera is proposing to deliver 5.69 terawatt hours of clean energy annually to Massachusetts, at a fixed price for 20 years.
Chris Huskilson, Emera’s president and chief executive officer, says the fixed price and long-term supply contract “represents compelling value for Massachusetts electricity customers.”
But it will be up to Massachusetts’ electric utilities to make that decision, likely by January.
Even with all of the electricity to be supplied by the wind farms, which typically operate at 40-45 per cent capacity, and the two electrical utilities, the Atlantic Link would only be about running at 65 per cent of its capacity.
That opens up an opportunity to energy suppliers in the region, including Nalcor whose Muskrat Falls project is slated for completion in 2019, to sell even more electricity to the United States through the Atlantic Link, said McAdam.
“It would be up to energy suppliers in the region who are unable to get to market right now . . . The connection to New England is congested,” he said.
According to Emera, the Atlantic Link would allow Massachusetts to optimize power flows between southeastern Massachusetts and Atlantic Canada, add to the system’s reliability and create economic advantages.
Emera, which trades on the TSX under the symbol EMA, has a market capitalization of more than $9.78 billion and closed the week at $46, slightly under the mid-point of its 52-week trading range, on light trading volume.
The company has about $29 billion in assets and invests in electrical generation, transmission and distribution, gas transmission and distribution, and utility energy services.
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