AS EMERA INC. NEARS completion of one subsea electricity transmission project, it’s looking to build a bigger one.
The Halifax-based energy company kicked off 2017 with a bang when it announced in January it had launched a solicitation process for energy that will supply its proposed Atlantic Link project. Emera says Atlantic Link will be an approximately 560-kilometre long underwater electric transmission line that will send 900 megawatts of clean energy into the New England market. The company is on the home stretch of its $1.6 billion Maritime Link project, a 177-kilometre-long subsea transmission line that will deliver 500 MW of hydro power from Labrador’s Muskrat Falls project into Nova Scotia’s power grid. Maritime Link is scheduled to be completed by January 2018.
Emera already has a presence in the northeast U.S. through its affiliate Emera Maine. Atlantic Link would increase its market share there. “It would be a very significant undertaking and there are a lot of moving parts here,” says Gerald Weseen, Emera’s vice-president, U.S. government affairs. “But folks are pretty excited about the opportunity.”
The opportunity lies mainly in Massachusetts. The state has legislated aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act passed in 2008. The Act requires a 25 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050. The state was expected to issue a request for proposals for clean energy this year as this magazine went to press. Emera is hoping Atlantic Link will be one of its clean energy suppliers. The project is estimated to cost US$2 billion, but Weseen says that figure is a very rough estimate.
The energy that could feed into Atlantic Link, which will start at a convertor station built in Coleson Cove, New Brunswick and end at one of two proposed landing sites in Massachusetts, could be wind, solar or hydro. The Municipality of Guysborough in Nova Scotia is hoping it will be a substantial power supplier to Atlantic Link, and is promoting the Melford area as a potential site for a large wind farm.
Barry Carroll, the municipality’s chief administrative officer, is looking for a developer to build the wind farm in Melford, which is located on the Strait of Canso and is known for its high winds. Carroll says the site is already pre-zoned for wind, communities are supportive of it and about one-third of Atlantic Link’s energy needs can be produced there. “Producing 300 MW wouldn’t be tough for that site,” Carroll says.