Government, Conservatives differ on Maritime Link energy savings

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Independent expert says mega-project cheaper than alternatives

An independent expert says the proposed Maritime Link would be more cost efficient than energy alternatives including purchasing hydroelectricity from Quebec or developing more wind power.

HALIFAX – An independent expert confirms that the Maritime Link will deliver the lowest-cost energy for Nova Scotians, in a report commissioned by the province.

John Dalton, an expert on the New England and eastern Canadian energy markets, Thursday, released his report on the Maritime Link project and alternatives to meet federal greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 and beyond.

"The Maritime Link project will provide Nova Scotians with the lowest, fairest electricity rates possible in the future," Premier Darrell Dexter said in a news release. "We are putting in place sound policies to ensure power rates are more stable and the Maritime Link project is a key piece of that plan. This is the right choice for the people of this province."

Dalton simulated the hourly operation of Nova Scotia's electricity system, from 2017 to 2052, under the three primary energy supply options: adding hydroelectricity from the Maritime Link, importing hydroelectricity from Hydro Quebec, or a natural gas/wind mix.

"The Maritime Link scenario is less expensive than either of the two primary alternatives," said Dalton. "The modeling indicates that, under a reasonable range of market outcomes that we evaluated, the Maritime Link offers a lower cost than hydroelectricity from Quebec or developing additional wind and natural gas in Nova Scotia."

The report says importing hydroelectricity from Quebec could be as much as $400 million more expensive than the Maritime Link option, while adding a natural gas/wind combination could be as much as $1.5 billion more.

The options were assessed based on the lowest long-term cost to meet federal coal and greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, as well as the best fit for achieving Nova Scotia's overall energy objectives of diversity, reliability and flexibility of supply options that promote price competition.

"This government is the first to pay attention to the risk to family budgets of having too much of our electricity produced from costly imported coal," said Energy Minister Charlie Parker. "We need to move away from coal and diversify our electricity mix. Our over-reliance on coal is a problem negatively affecting electricity prices and our environment."

In addition, the Maritime Link is the only option that provides Nova Scotians with: a reliable source of clean energy with predictable prices for 35 years, a second connection to the North American grid, increasing the reliability of the electricity system, the flexibility to access more options for purchasing competitively priced electricity in the future, and the ability to balance more local renewable sources such as wind

"I want to thank Mr. Dalton and his team for their detailed report," said Premier Dexter. "It's clear that our energy plan will secure Nova Scotia's energy future, protecting the environment, creating hundreds of jobs and ensuring the lowest, most stable electricity rates for families."

The Utility and Review Board will examine all options and determine whether the Maritime Link is the lowest-cost option and in the best interest of Nova Scotia ratepayers.

The Dalton report can be found at

Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie says the Dexter NDP's secret study, by its own Renewable Electricity Advisor, is not the independent review of Muskrat Falls Nova Scotians deserve.

"This is just the latest example of the NDP's master plan to push through the Muskrat Falls mega-project without the proper scrutiny," Baillie said in a news release from the PC caucus office. "Our economy is dangerously weak because of the NDP. Families and business owners cannot afford for the NDP to ram this through without knowing the cost."

This is a 50-year decision and our children cannot afford for the NDP to get it wrong, Baillie added.

Power rates are up more than 30 per cent under the Dexter NDP, making them the highest in the country. Businesses are closing and 8,600 Nova Scotians lost their job in 2012, Baillie said.

Baillie said the NDP Premier's last-minute admission of a secret study on Muskrat Falls brings its sincerity in to question. On Tuesday, the NDP announced another study that could positively impact the price of natural gas, but the NDP refuse to wait for its results before pushing forward with Muskrat Falls.

"Today's study does not compare Muskrat Falls to all the possible alternatives, such as building more generating capacity from clean natural gas," said Baillie. "The NDP are trying to pull a fast one by Nova Scotians, lumping wind and natural gas together as an expensive alternative."

Baillie said families and businesses cannot afford two or three per cent rate increases each year and that the Liberal and NDP electricity agendas would continue to drive rates higher.

The Conservative leader said his party is proposing making power rates affordable by freezing power rates, removing the guarantee on Nova Scotia Power's profit, rewriting the NDP electricity plan to make it affordable,and creating a regional energy market to lower power bills for consumers.

The PCs introduced legislation in May that would require an independent review of certain capital projects. The purpose of the bill is to protect taxpayers and electricity ratepayers from being forced to foot the bill for expensive mega-projects that haven’t been properly scrutinized.


Organizations: Maritime Link, NDP, Hydro Quebec North American Utility and Review Board Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, New England, Quebec

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Recent comments

  • Gas combustion pollutes
    January 23, 2013 - 16:09

    ...Mr got it wrong,,,,natural gas is not clean....and you have not idea how to predict how costly the price of gas will be in 15-25 years...But wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, are now cost competitive with coa, oil and gas....and bsides if you really understood what was "right for our children" you would advocate clean technologies not DIRTY oil or slightly cleaner gas that when combusted, makes the air toxic to those young children...time to clean up our act...and we should start with politicians who understand how to "calculate numbers", obviously DEXTER nor BAILLIE are able to do the math...(and BAillie was the CEO for a Credit Union)...your comments lack CREDIT!

  • Charlie MacEachern
    January 18, 2013 - 09:31

    Re. tidal power, accounting for investment in tidal research and the failed attempt to date to develop this source, without investing another nickel in tidal power R & D, if the failed tidal project was generating power today, the cost to ratepayers would be $0.65/KWh. Considering the previous costs would need to be factored into any future research and development, the ratepayer cost per KWh will continue to increase exponentially.

  • Terry T
    January 18, 2013 - 09:28

    Johnny Smoke what you fail to recognize is that a FIT while seemingly increasing your power bill will actually level the playing field for renewable energy production at the same time actually lowering your power bill once you factor into account the long term smoothing effect. So while in the immediate sense we seem to be paying more, it will be of benefit to ratepayers as the price of other fuels increases over time. Don't forget that Nova Scotia is one of the greatest polluters per capita in Canada. But I guess it's just the cost of doing business? Yeah right LMFAO...

  • Geoff Hachey
    January 18, 2013 - 09:04

    What about tidal power and Windmills??? I think that maybe we should be looking at buying and installing our own Water Turbines and Windmills throughout the province and set up our own power stations to feed off. I know I pay enough taxes for where I live and don't see anything in return. I would be happy to be paying for something if I knew I was getting something in return and I think This would be common throughout our province. Just a though....

    • Terry T
      January 18, 2013 - 09:33

      Geoff, excellent points indeed. By investing in tidal energy we have an opportunity to create economic gains never seen before in this province. Shortly you will hear about these opportunities in Digby County. We need more supporters like you!!... By investing now in tidal, we hedge our investments in the long term, we create economic activity (that's jobs to Nova Scotians BTW), and we create a "can-do" attitude that defies logic in other circles around Canada. Yes we do have the means and the ways, what we need now is the political will, a change in attitude and damn balls to get it done...thanks for your post Geoff

  • b g wall
    January 17, 2013 - 12:11

    i have lots of experience working for 5 companies in ontario,3 small & 2 large corp. only for the c.a.& controllers making the money decisions we were able to keep afloat , Baillie is a c.a .& just maybe he has a good point.

    • Johnny smoke
      January 17, 2013 - 13:06

      You are darn right that he has a good point. If anything the N.D.P. are less than candid when it comes to cost vs benefit analysis. All they see is green, all that you will see is green flying out of your wallet to pay for this misadventure. Recently it was learned that St. FX found it more to their advantage to buy power at a discounted rate not available to you and I and sell their steam generated power back into the grid at the feed in tariff rate, the same rate that is paid to all of those windmill owners. The same rate that is driving your power bills through the roof. According to N.S.P.'s own graphs my consumption of power was down 16.69% between January 2012 and January 2013, however my power bill increased 37.2% since this feed in tariff baloney started. Now if you think that Muskrat Falls is going to bring you any relief after Emra of all people is tasked with building a $1.7 billion dollar sub sea cable then you are on something illegal. That $1.7 billion dollar price tag will be somewhere between $2.5 and $3.5 billion, and guess who will be paying for that, got a mirror handy?

  • C Reid
    January 17, 2013 - 10:56

    Corcerned power user : Nothing mentioned in this article about Tidal power. Is it history?