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Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro releases plan to make it through winter

['Telegram file photo']
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has considered a number of potential scenarios it could face as demand for power increases this winter. File photo

With Labrador-Island Link still out of the picture, imports and other energy generators expected to help

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

With the Labrador-Island Link likely years away from being a reliable energy resource to help power the province, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has outlined ways to ensure there's a stable supply to get through this winter.

The primary supplier of electricity for the province recently unveiled its winter readiness plan in a 156-page report prepared for the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB). NL Hydro submitted the report to the PUB Oct. 10.

Because of software issues, the Labrador-Island Link (LIL) is not yet ready to transmit power generated at Muskrat Falls to the island portion of the province. Nalcor Energy CEO Stan Marshall, speaking at a PUB hearing earlier this month on electricity rate mitigation options, said it could be two or three more years before the software is operational. With that in mind. NL Hydro prepared its winter readiness plan under the assumption the LIL won't be available this winter.

Without the link, NL Hydro has determined it will likely need to produce and procure more energy to stabilize the province's power system this winter.  In August, taking into account the situation with the LIL, Hydro revised its minimum storage limits for the remainder of the year. As of Sept. 30, Hydro's total system energy in storage was 1,281 gigawatt hours (GWh). That was 228 GWh below the revised minimum storage limit it set of 1,509 GWh. Hydro said in the report that an early return to service and maximization of generation at the Holyrood thermal generating system will help this cause, as will Nalcor Energy's effort to import energy.

Hydro itself expects to purchase imported energy via the Maritime Link. In some cases, this can have an economic benefit, as thermal energy generated on the island comes at a higher cost, though imported energy has aided system reliability in the past. In the report, Hydro noted during the period of Feb. 19-26, 2019, a system record peak of 1,784 megawatts (MW) was experienced Feb. 20 (Hydro's installed generating capacity is 1626 MW). Hydro elected to have energy imported for 94 per cent of the hours that week.

Hydro will also make use of agreements struck with customers who also generate energy. One such deal is already in place with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, which can provide up to 105 MW. At the time of the winter readiness report's release, Hydro was hoping to renew a similar agreement for capacity assistance with Vale Newfoundland and Labrador Ltd. to offer an additional 7.6 MW as needed. The report said Hydro expected to have a deal in place before Nov. 1. Hydro did confirm to The Telegram Monday in a statement that it was still aiming to reach an agreement with Vale by then.

Hydro analyzed seven unique scenarios that could play out this winter, taking into consideration varied forced outage rates for the Holyrood thermal generating system and the use of imports. The forced outage rate helps outline the number of options Hydro would need to explore to ensure a reliable power system. In the case of these scenarios, the rate for Holyrood started at 15 per cent and went as high as 20. Hydro found that the power system was left increasingly exposed when unavailability at Holyrood went beyond 15 per cent, but importing energy under these circumstances aided system reliability considerably.

Twitter: @CBNAndrew


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