The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia on Thursday announced a $6.2-billion deal to develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric megaproject, bypassing a historical roadblock at the Quebec border.
"It's a huge milestone," Premier Danny Williams told reporters in St. John's, as he and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter revealed a complex deal that will generate power on the Churchill River, and supply energy to both provinces and possibly beyond. Energy companies in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia will pay at least $6.2 billion to develop the Lower Churchill power project, supplying power to both provinces and potentially beyond. Energy companies in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia will pay at least $6.2 billion to develop the Lower Churchill power project, supplying power to both provinces and potentially beyond. (CBC)
"We think this is absolutely huge," said Williams. "This project is a go."
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The deal effectively allows Nalcor to generate energy for Newfoundland and sell surplus energy to new markets, and provides a consistent source of energy to Emera, which already has commercial stakes in the Maritimes and the northeastern U.S.
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The deal, though, leaves undeveloped the 2,200-megawatt potential of the Gull Island site on the Churchill River, which has been on blueprints — and a dream of every Newfoundland and Labrador premier — since the 1970s.
Even though only the smaller component of the megaproject is now being built, Williams described it as monumental, and the fact that it is bypassing Quebec is of historic significance.
He said residents of his province "can let it go," referring to decades of ill feeling over a 65-year contract signed with Quebec in 1969 on the Upper Churchill megaproject, in which Quebec reaps the vast majority of revenues.
Under the deal, Nalcor will pay for the development of Muskrat Falls and the companies would jointly develop subsea power lines from Labrador to Newfoundland.
Power will flow in Newfoundland down the Northern Peninsula and along a path toward eastern Newfoundland, bypassing Gros Morne National Park. Williams had once wanted to run power lines through the area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but changed his mind after public opposition to the proposal.