The estimated cost of the Maritime Link, electrically connecting Cape Breton to Granite Canal on the island of Newfoundland, has risen from $1.39 billion to $1.58 billion, an increase of 13.6%.
The increase is reported in a filing today on behalf of Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link, a subsidiary of Emera. The Quarterly Report can be found on the Nova Scotia UARB website under Matter No. M06024.
Maritime Link is a portion of the Muskrat Falls project.
Yesterday, Muskrat Falls critic Ed Hollett presented analysis indicating that the estimated cost of the Newfoundland portion of the project has risen from $5.0 billion in 2010 to $7.2 billion now. Neither of these figures include interest during construction, which is normally included in utility capital project reporting.
The NL government has ramped up spending aggressively on Muskrat Falls. In the period between January 2013 and September 2013 alone, $275,509,951 has been spent on the project.
One of the uncertainties hanging over the Muskrat Falls is whether Nalcor — NL’s crown energy holding company — will be able to execute its production plan for the facility. Muskrat Falls will generate very little power in the winter, when power is required both on the island of Newfoundland and also to satisfy Nalcor’s commitments to Emera. Nalcor’s plan requires taking winter delivery of a large block of power from the Upper Churchill generating facility controlled by Hydro Quebec pursuant to a 1969 agreement. Hydro Quebec has filed an application in Quebec Superior court defending its contractual rights at Upper Churchill.
A federal loan guarantee to the project, promised by Stephen Harper during the 2011 election campaign, was finalized this week.
Hydro Quebec is building the Romaine project about 300 km closer to eastern markets than Muskrat Falls. That project will cost about the same as Muskrat Falls, will be completed years earlier, and will deliver about twice as much energy but is widely considered to be uneconomic.