Builder of Labrador-Island transmission link pledges environmental sensitivity

Nalcor Energy, which is developing the proposed Labrador-Island transmission link joining central Labrador on the Canadian mainland to the island of Newfoundland, said in its environmental impact statement that the line will be built “to maximize benefits and minimize harmful effects of the project.”

In the 114-page executive summary of the 2,685-page EIS, which was issued April 9, co-developer Nalcor Energy said the transmission link “will be constructed, and operated and maintained in an environmentally responsible manner, respecting the principles of sustainable development. The project will preserve ecosystem integrity, respect the right of future generations to the sustainable use of renewable and non-renewable resources.”

Nalcor Energy said it “has considered alternatives to the transmission project, including development of resources such as wind and small hydro on the island. Nalcor has concluded that the least cost alternative to meet the electricity needs of the island includes the transmission project.”

“The project is being planned by Nalcor in a manner that considers environmentally sensitive areas of the province and has avoided these areas to the extent practical,” the company stated.

Nalcor Energy and Emera, Inc. (TSX:EMA) will build the proposed 1,100-kilometer (683.5 mile) project to connect the two areas with a 350-kV DC cable link. The total construction cost is estimated at C$2.1bn (US$2.09bn).

The project “will deliver a reliable and clean supply of electricity to people and businesses on the island of Newfoundland. It will also enable the delivery of electricity to markets in the Maritime Provinces and United States,” Nalcor Energy said in the summary.

Nalcor Energy has identified a two-kilometer wide study corridor for the transmission line that crosses central and southeastern Labrador, the Northern Peninsula, central and eastern Newfoundland and the Avalon Peninsula. The final 60-meter-wide right-of-way will be chosen from within that corridor during the final transmission project design. In the EIS, the utility noted that “approximately 88% of the corridor is on uninhabited Crown [government-owned] land and is therefore rarely seen by the public; thereby, reducing overall visual sensitivity.”

The utility said the project will bring jobs to the project area and will also have a positive effect on existing businesses. “Based on the current economic climate in the province and implementation of the planned effects management measures, the overall net economic outcomes of the project are predicted to be overwhelmingly positive,” Nalcor Energy said in its executive summary.

Nalcor Energy expects to employ approximately 30 new full-time employees to operate and maintain the line once it is completed and energized.

Nalcor Energy must still obtain approvals from the governments of Newfoundland, Labrador, and Canada to build the project. Engineering design and construction for the line is expected to take approximately five years.