Upgrades to Quebec Inter-connection finish under budget and ahead of schedule
North Shannonvale, N.B. – A major upgrade to NB Power's interconnection with Quebec has come in ahead of schedule and under budget as upgrades to extend the life of the Eel River High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Converter Station near Dalhousie, NB are now complete. The $85 million project represents a major investment in NB Power's northern New Brunswick operations, and ensures both continued reliability and the seamless import and export of approximately 350 MW of energy between Quebec and New Brunswick. The 20 month project finished 2 weeks ahead of schedule and more than $5M under budget.
"This is an important investment for the future of our utility as our customers benefit in many ways from our ability to import and export energy to and from Quebec," said NB Power President and CEO, Gaëtan Thomas. "Upgrading the Station ensures these financial benefits continue to flow to our customers as we keep our rates low and stable over time."
The Eel River station is one of two interconnects with Quebec that provide NB Power with access to export markets, and to large amounts of renewable power generated outside the province. When energy in Québec or Labrador is relatively inexpensive, NB Power buys that energy through the Station. When NB Power has excess energy, we sell it at a profit through the Station. When Nova Scotia or Maine buys energy from Québec, they pay us a fee for transmitting the power through the Station and over our transmission lines.
The importing of electricity through the station also enables the province to meet peak demands during cold winter months, and also ensures secure and reliable access to electricity when domestic plants require maintenance.
Work began on site in spring 2013 and the station resumed commercial operation on November 12, 2014. The upgrades included replacing original equipment in the station, which came online in 1972. The specialized HVDC equipment was designed and manufactured by ABB Inc, a global company with expertise in electric power systems.
New Brunswick contractors worked on the installation of equipment manufactured by ABB. The project also included replacing end-of-life plant equipment that interfaces with the new ABB-supplied equipment.
"This was an exceptionally well-run project and I'm proud of the NB Power team that managed it and the contractors who delivered it", said Thomas.
The project generated economic benefits to the northern region, with several contracts awarded to local, regional and provincial companies for equipment supply and installation work. At peak of construction, approximately 250 employees, contractors and consultants worked at the Eel River site.
"This work was essential to NB Power's operations and we are very proud to have had highly qualified, local contractors and trades workers contribute to the project and create work opportunities in the region," said Thomas.
The main driver for construction of the Eel River Station in the early 1970s was the development of the Churchill Falls Hydro Project, which provided a large block of inexpensive surplus energy to eastern Canada. The 350 MW transfer capability between Québec and New Brunswick through Eel River enabled NB Power to participate in the movement of energy from Québec and Labrador to New Brunswick and other neighbouring markets. In addition to the import/export functions, the Eel River HVDC Converter Station plays a significant role in providing reliability to the bulk power system in New Brunswick.