ST. JOHN’S – A U.S.-based energy expert is raising concerns about how a proposed mega-takeover in New Brunswick will affect the transmission of power from other Atlantic provinces.
“(Hydro-Quebec’s) acquisition of NB Power raises significant questions concerning open access to electricity markets in northeastern North America;’ Gordon Weil, an electrical industry analyst and president of Standard Energy Company in Maine, wrote in a report.
“It may prove beneficial to all parties to attempt to clarify issues and seek mutually beneficial arrangements while the final agreement between Quebec and New Brunswick is being drafted.
Weil wrote the analysis for Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), Halifax-based think tank.
He is an independent consultant on transmission and power supply matters, and previously served as Maine’s energy director and public advocate.
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have expressed concern over their ability to transmit power across New Brunswick into U.S. markets if the Hydro-Quebec deal goes through.
New Brunswick won’t provide a letter guaranteeing such access, but says U.S. rules require the free flow of power.
Weil said the Hydro-Quebec/NB Power deal “provides for significant changes in the operation of the transmission system:’
He noted that New Brunswick’s independent transmission authority would be eliminated, and replaced by a subsidiary of HydroQuebec.
“This transfer raises questions about the ability of the new transmission operator to be truly independent of (Hydro-Quebec) and to operate the transmission system without preference being given to its owner;’ Weil wrote.
“(Hydro-Quebec) will own and control all present and proposed transmission interconnections with New England as well as major links with New York. The amount of generation controlled by (HydroQuebec) together with this extensive control of transmission raises issues on both sides of the international border:’
Weil noted that there is no national Canadian regulator overseeing transmission issues.
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, does have a role. “FERC has the authority to require (Hydro-Quebec) to submit new information related to its market power;’ Weil noted.”New England parties that are concerned about this issue mayparticipate in a FERC proceeding, and it is likely that Canadian interests may as well. The length of such a proceeding is uncertain:’
Newfoundland and Labrador hopes to sell Lower Churchill power into U.S. markets. One of the routes for that electricity is through New Brunswick.
Newfoundland and Labrador officials have complained about Quebec regulatory delays in getting permission to ship power over the other route to market, through Quebec.