Is Emera’s Atlantic Link a lost cause?

Is Emera’s Atlantic Link a lost cause?

Emera Inc.’s bid to supply Massachusetts with 1,000 megawatts of clean energy has fallen short—for now.

The Halifax-based energy company announced in January that the state, led by Republican Governor Charlie Baker, had chosen Hydro-Quebec’s Northern Pass Transmission project as the successful bid in a clean energy request for proposals. The 309-kilometre-long transmission line would cost Hydro-Quebec $1.6 billion to build. It beat out 45 other applicants.

However, the state of New Hampshire put up a huge roadblock to Hydro-Quebec’s project when state regulators rejected the project, which would have went through the state, saying it would harm tourism and property values. While New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee will hold a rehearing on May 25 for Northern Pass.

This comes after the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced in late March it will move forward with New England Clean Energy Connect. The $950 million hydropower project proposed by Central Maine Power Co. and Hydro-Quebec would begin in 2022 — two years later than the previous proposal. This project would go through western Maine instead of New Hampshire.

While Emera has missed out on that business opportunity, president and CEO Chris Huskilson says the New England region is still an attractive market for the company. “Connecting New England to new sources of affordable clean energy in Atlantic Canada, along a reliable subsea transmission connection, remains a compelling opportunity that would bring significant value to the market. The project embodies Emera’s strategy of delivering cleaner, affordable energy to customers,” Huskilson said in a statement released on Jan. 25. “Emera will continue to advance Atlantic Link, including the project’s Presidential Permit application and required approvals from relevant agencies in the United States and Canada, as we assess the outcome of the Massachusetts solicitation and future market opportunities.”

Atlantic Link called for an approximately 560-kilometre long underwater transmission line to be built starting at Coleson Cove, New Brunswick (located just south of Saint John) and ending at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Emera has plenty of experience building subsea transmissions lines having completed the 177-kilometre-long $1.6 billion Maritime Link project that is sending Newfoundland and Labrador hydropower into the Nova Scotia power grid. Atlantic Link would have received its power for the transmission line via Newfoundland and Labrador hydropower and seven wind farms—five in New Brunswick and two in Nova Scotia.

The state’s selection of Northern Pass over the Atlantic Link not only means a substantial loss of revenue for Emera, but a loss of jobs and economic activity for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Atlantic Link’s economic impact
2018-2022 construction period

New Brunswick
7,500 construction jobs
$1.2 billion in GDP

Nova Scotia
1,000 direct and indirect jobs
$125 million in GDP

Source: Emera Inc.

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