HALIFAX – The province has signed an agreement with Emera Inc. to keep the Lower Churchill project moving forward and help meet the conditions of the federal loan guarantee, which will save Nova Scotia ratepayers more than $100 million in borrowing costs if the project proceeds.
The stability agreement protects the project from unexpected legislative or regulation changes while the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board reviews the Maritime Link and its costs for Nova Scotia ratepayers.
The federal loan guarantee requires stable investments to access financial support. In July, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador signed a reciprocal stability agreement, one of 13 agreements released when the deal between Emera Inc. and Nalcor was signed.
The loan guarantee also requires a similar stability agreement between the provinces and the federal government. It is expected to be complete by late winter. "In the loan-guarantee negotiations, the province of Nova Scotia made a commitment to provide regulatory stability required to facilitate the early sanctioning of the program," said Premier Darrell Dexter in a news release. "This agreement ensures that stability while respecting the Utility and Review Board's transparent review and independent decision on whether the Maritime Link is the right choice for Nova Scotia ratepayers.
"This is a very important project for Nova Scotia," said Premier Dexter. "We continue to believe that this is the lowest-cost option to reduce Nova Scotia's dependence on expensive coal and build a cleaner energy future. "It will also create jobs, ensure lower, more stable electricity rates in the long term and give our province access to more energy options."
The province also signed an agreement with Emera Inc., Nalcor Energy and Newfoundland and Labrador about how they will work together to meet the conditions of the federal loan guarantee.
The agreement calls for a joint committee to oversee the project and a commitment from each party's best efforts to meet the conditions of the federal loan guarantee agreement.
"Both the stability and oversight agreements will help move the project forward to secure the federal loan guarantee and the benefits and savings that means for Nova Scotia ratepayers," said Premier Dexter. "Nova Scotians deserve the lowest, fairest electricity rates possible and we believe that it is best achieved through the Lower Churchill Project.
"The UARB will review all the costs associated with the project and our energy alternatives. This will ensure that not one penny will be charged to ratepayers that is not approved by the UARB."
Canada's greenhouse gas reduction regulations require the province to continue to change the way it generates electricity. For Nova Scotia, this means a major switch from coal to cleaner energy sources like hydro.