Documents show the federal government is hoping for a deal this summer to develop the Atlantic Loop energy project in Eastern Canada, but Nova Scotia is so far not on board.
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A federal source close to negotiations shared two information notes with The Canadian Press about the Atlantic Loop. The documents, prepared for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, lay out ambitious goals to hammer out an agreement in principal this summer and complete the project by 2030 — a timeline described as “tight.”
The source, who communicated on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said Ottawa has also offered to invest $4.5 billion to help the project along. But a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said that investment is a loan that would have to be repaid by the province.
“It would also see Nova Scotians paying for infrastructure in Quebec,” Houston’s press secretary, Meagan Byrd, said in an email Friday. “We obviously cannot support a proposal where Nova Scotians pay more.”
The documents show the Atlantic Loop would involve two interprovincial power lines “connecting clean power from Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.” The line between Quebec and New Brunswick is estimated to cost $6.1 billion, while the other would cost $700 million, according to the notes, which are dated last month.
Nova Scotia government says still no commitment from Ottawa on Atlantic Loop
The New Brunswick-Nova Scotia line is hoped to be functioning by the end of 2027. The other would be working by 2030, “to ensure compliance with provincial and federal climate regulations.”
The files tout the Atlantic Loop as the most cost-effective way to wean Nova Scotia off coal, and they say it would also help the Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and federal governments reach their climate goals.
“The Loop expands existing connections and allows for additional long-term import (and) export arrangements with Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island,” the notes say.
Officials with Nova Scotia Power, the New Brunswick Power Corporation, Hydro-Quebec and the Canada Infrastructure Bank have been meeting to discuss the project for about two years, the documents say.
That revelation did not sit well with the leader of the Official Opposition party in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The only people not at the table are the representatives from Newfoundland Labrador,” Progressive Conservative Leader David Brazil told reporters on Friday. “We’re a bit confused. Is this an Atlantic Loop? Or is it a Maritime-Quebec loop in the discussions?”
No Indigenous groups were listed among the parties meeting to discuss the projects. The information notes say the agreement in principle would “confirm (a) co-ordinated approach among parties to Indigenous engagement and consultations and regulatory processes.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2023.
— with files from Keith Doucette in Halifax
© 2023 The Canadian Press