Newfoundland, Nova Scotia allot contract opportunities for 3,074-MW Lower Churchill

SYDNEY, Nova Scotia, Canada 12/1/11 (PennWell) -- The governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and of Nova Scotia have completed a memorandum of agreement dividing up business and employment opportunities of the 3,074-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project.

"This development is a game-changer for Nova Scotia and the entire Atlantic region," Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said. "The finalized agreement sets the stage for Nova Scotia companies and workers to access opportunities in this enormous project."

The C$6.2 billion (US$6.1 billion) Lower Churchill project includes the 824-MW Muskrat Falls and 2,250-MW Gull Island hydro plants on the Churchill River in Labrador, plus transmission links to Newfoundland Island, Nova Scotia, and New England.

The memorandum of agreement, announced Nov. 28, outlines industrial and employment benefits from the three initial developments of the Lower Churchill project: the Muskrat Falls hydro plant, the Labrador Island transmission link, and the Maritime transmission link. It provides Nova Scotia companies an opportunity to compete for all components of the project, with preference for Newfoundland and Labrador residents on the first two developments and equal access to jobs for Nova Scotia residents on the Maritime link. Nova Scotia said the agreement gives its residents access to thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.

The agreement conforms to a July 2010 strategy adopted by Newfoundland and Labrador and its utility, Nalcor Energy, that first honors commitments to aboriginal groups and then residents of Newfoundland and Labrador in providing opportunities to work on the hydro plants and the transmission link to Newfoundland Island.

Additionally, Natural Resources Canada issued a joint statement with the two provinces, saying the three governments continue to work in collaboration toward a loan guarantee for Lower Churchill.

"The government of Canada, for its part, remains committed to a loan guarantee," the statement said. "Our governments continue to meet and discuss this important project regularly as we move forward on providing all the data necessary."

Nalcor Energy submitted a report to Newfoundland and Labrador in November, supporting the big hydro project as the least-cost option for future power generation. The report responded to a challenge by the Canada and Newfoundland governments to justify development of the project.

The Canada and Newfoundland governments also signed three agreements in November with the Innu of Labrador, enlisting the support of the native peoples in exchange for recognition of rights and pledges of economic benefits to the Innu.

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