Nova Scotia’s regulator approves $164 million in Maritime Link costs for 2023
By Keith DoucetteIndustry Energy Utilities
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia ratepayers will foot a $163.7-million bill in 2023 to finance, operate and maintain the undersea cable that feeds the province electricity from Newfoundland and Labrador.
In a Dec. 22 decision, the province’s Utility and Review Board approved a request made in August by the subsidiary of Nova Scotia Power that operates the cable called the Maritime Link. The review board said the amount will be reflected in Nova Scotia Power’s electricity rates and recovered from customers.
The 2023 cost assessment is about $5 million lower than the $169 million approved for 2022. The overall decrease includes $1.9 million less for operating and maintenance costs.
The review board said the subsidiary “stated that the 2023 ? forecast is based on its growing experience operating and maintaining the Maritime Link since 2018 and accounts for its continuing efforts to refine, mitigate, and contain costs.” It notes that a marine survey of the link would not be conducted in 2023 as part of cost savings.
In February, the board approved the recovery of $1.7 billion over 35 years for the cost of the cable, which is meant to carry electricity from the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
The Maritime Link, which was completed on budget and on time, was supposed to be fully operational by 2018 but has only transported minimal electricity to Nova Scotia because of a series of setbacks with the Muskrat Falls project.
Nova Scotia’s power utility released figures ahead of the February decision indicating $205.5 million was spent on replacement fuels over the past four years because of the delays.
As a result, the board ordered that Nova Scotia Power could hold back $2 million per month to pay for replacement energy if less than 90 per cent of the expected power from Labrador isn’t delivered. The board was told in February that about 19 per cent of the expected electricity, referred to as the Nova Scotia Block, was delivered between Aug. 15, 2021, and the end of November of that year.
“Unfortunately, delays in Nova Scotia Block deliveries persist, potentially leading to significant replacement energy costs,” the board said.
In its new decision the board said the $2 million monthly holdback would continue on an interim basis and would be reviewed in a separate proceeding to be held in January.
Meanwhile, the review board is expected to release its decision shortly on a power rate increase.