Ottawa supports electricity expressway in Eastern Canada
The federal government’s commitment to additional electricity transmission capacity in Quebec and Atlantic Canada is a step forward in a broad plan to boost transmission capability within the Eastern region.
Branded in the federal throne speech as the “Atlantic Loop,” the goal is to upgrade transmission capacity on the East Coast to allow hydroelectric power from Labrador and Quebec to displace coal use in the region.
The four Atlantic provinces have been working on the Atlantic Clean Power Initiative for over 18 months in a collaborative effort. In January 2020, Quebec joined the discussions. Together, they have been advocating for increased transmission capability within the Eastern region.
Currently, there are capacity limitations, especially during peak times such as cold winter mornings when there is high electricity demand throughout the region. The Atlantic Clean Power Initiative was created to increase transmission capacity. Prince Edward Island also has capacity issues in its effort to transmit excess wind power off the Island.
Additional transmission capacity would allow more electricity to flow through the region.
The proposal includes a high-voltage DC transmission line from Quebec to New Brunswick, connecting to P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. It also would involve a new HCDC (high current direct current) line for up to 700 megawatts into the region from Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. This would translate into an electricity expressway to move more megawatts through the region. It would help remove bottlenecks, especially in peak winter months. There would be no change in transmission capacity to or from New England.
The potential environmental advantage is that low-emission electricity would be the additional electricity. The Atlantic provinces would buy more hydro power from Quebec and use less from coal-burning plants in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The plan has the support of the four Atlantic premiers. The premiers met with Quebec Premier François Legault in St. John's in January to discuss the possibility of using both Quebec's surplus hydroelectricity and soon-to-flow power from the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador as a clean-energy solution for Atlantic Canada. Now, the federal government also has indicated its support with the mention in the recent throne speech opening Parliament.