Tag Archives: Quebec

Congrats to Nalcor, Nova Scotia for opening the tap on Lower Churchill

The tap could be opened wider, and that day will come, but it’s good to see Newfoundland and Labrador utility Nalcor striking a deal with Nova Scotia utility Emera to develop 824 megawatts of hydroelectric capacity at Muskrat Falls, part of the larger Lower Churchill initiative. The $6.2-bilion deal should see emission-free power start flowing by 2017 that will allow NF&L and Nova Scotia to significantly reduce their dependence on oil and coal for the production of electricity. Read coverage here and here.

According to the deal, Nalcor will get 40 per cent of the power, Emera 20 per cent, and the rest will be sold into other markets, mainly New England states. Hydro-rich Quebec, of course, wasn’t too happy with the announcement because it wants to dominate hydroelectric exports and has been actively trying to block any attempts by Nalcor to transmit power from Lower Churchil across Quebec into Ontario and other U.S. jurisdictions. There’s bad blood between Quebec and NF&L, going back to the raw deal NF&L got when it struck a deal with Quebec to develop Upper Churchill.

If Quebec is serious about battling climate change and reducing Canada’s emissions, as it says it is, then when is it going to start cooperating with other provinces toward reaching that goal? Certainly competition is good, and Ontario — as one example — would benefit by having access to more than one source of clean electricity outside of its own borders. There’s plenty of need for clean energy… certainly everyone can benefit by developing these valuable resources.

Of course, the battle with Quebec is likely to continue. Nalcor still wants to develop another 2,200 MW at Gull Island, and it would very much like to carry that power through Quebec and into Ontario and other U.S. markets. Certainly, Quebec needs to be compensated for this in some way, but so far the two provinces disagree on what constitutes fair and reasonable. We need to move beyond this bickering…

REC to spend $1.2 billion for solar silicon plant in Quebec

Last week we knew a big announcement would be made, but this morning the cat is out of the bag.  Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp. said today it will build a solar silicon materials plant in Becancour, Quebec, and will invest at least $1.2 billion (Cdn) to do it. This is a huge announcement, and will create 300 jobs in the province. REC said it chose Quebec because it was able to negotiate a competitive 20-year electricity rate from the province. That, combined with the fact that a lion’s share of power production in Quebec is hydroelectric, sat well with REC. The company apparently was interested in lowering the carbon footprint of its energy-intensive business.

Good on Quebec for driving this deal through. According to REC, it spent 17 months screening more than 100 possible locations in 16 countries. It then narrowed the list to 40 sites before going through intense due diligence. Once a short list was established it engaged in final negotiations. Certain jurisdictions, like Iceland or Quebec, have an advantage over others because they are heavy on renewables — such as geothermal and hydroelectric — and aren’t subject to fuel price volatility. This means they can not only offer power for cheap, but can also offer a price that stays the same for 20 years.