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Nova Scotia regulator approves revised agreement on Maritime Link

File photo of Muskrat Falls at the Churchill River in central Labrador.

Greg Locke/Reuters

Nova Scotia's energy regulator has approved a revised agreement from energy company Emera to proceed with the $1.5-billion Maritime Link project, which would ship hydroelectricity from the Muskrat Falls project from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia's Utility and Review Board tentatively endorsed the Maritime Link earlier this year, but it attached a list of conditions to ensure the 170-kilometre subsea link doesn't impose a heavy burden on the province's electricity customers.

The board said Friday that the revised deal meets those conditions.

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"The board is satisfied that the conditions outlined in the Maritime Link decision have been met and that the Maritime Link Project is approved in accordance with the Maritime Link decision and this supplemental decision," the board said in its decision.

"The benefit of the (agreement) is that it will provide (Nova Scotia Power) with real and tangible advantages when it participates in the energy market. These benefits will necessarily flow to its customers."

Emera (TSX:EMA) said the board's ruling confirms its long-held position that the Maritime Link is the cheapest long-term energy option for customers of Nova Scotia Power, its subsidiary.

"The $1.5-billion investment in the Maritime Link will provide benefits to Nova Scotia customers that significantly exceed the value of the investment over the life of the project," Emera CEO Chris Huskilson said in a statement.

During the board's hearings earlier this month on the revised agreement, Nova Scotia's consumer and small business advocates said they couldn't support it because it isn't in the interests of the province's ratepayers.

Under the agreement, ratepayers in Nova Scotia would pay for the link through their electricity bills.

Emera and Nalcor Energy, Newfoundland and Labrador's Crown energy company, are aiming to have power flowing from Muskrat Falls in 2017.

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Huskilson said one of the next steps is to finalize a federal loan guarantee that aims to save Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia more than $1-billion in borrowing costs for the Muskrat Falls project. The overall development is estimated to cost $7.7-billion.

Construction is already under way on Muskrat Falls in Labrador.

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