A recent meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers was dominated by the need for more green energy in the region as efforts intensify to reduce carbon emissions.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, chair of the Council, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King, and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil were joined by Québec Premier François Legault during a portion of their meeting to discuss opportunities to develop, transmit, and exchange clean energy resources such as hydro-electricity.

The meeting followed on the heels of NB Power and Hydro-Québec signing deals that will boost electricity sales to New Brunswick and provide help for the looming refurbishment of the Mactaquac dam near Fredericton.

Clean energy from Quebec will allow New Brunswick to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and the technical expertise for Mactaquac will assist efforts to keep the dam operating until at least 2068.

Three agreements signed by the utilities are ushering in a new era of energy cooperation between the two provinces.

Under the first agreement, Hydro-Québec will export 47 terawatt hours of electricity to New Brunswick between now and 2040 over existing power lines.

Under the second agreement, Hydro-Québec will share expertise to extend the life of the Mactaquac generating station until at least 2068. Quebec has developed technical experience in repairing concrete weakened by a chemical reaction that causes swelling and cracking.

The third agreement calls for discussions to begin regarding construction of additional interconnections between Quebec and New Brunswick in order to increase electricity exports to Atlantic Canada and the United States. The utilities say that increasing transmission capacity will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the reliability of both grids.

While there were no signed agreements at the meeting of the premiers on upgrades to the transmission system in the region, the leaders said they will “move forward in an expeditious manner on new clean, reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity generation, improving transmission networks, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region.”

Both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick still have coal-fired power plants.