Independent expert says mega-project cheaper than alternatives
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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 novascotia.ca.
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.