Canada: The Atlantic Link: 5 Key Questions About The Electrifying Opportunity To Connect To A New Renewable Energy Market

Last Updated: January 17 2017
Article by David MacDougall, Michael Simms and Elizabeth McIsaac

On January 11, 2017, Emera Inc. offered an electrifying opportunity for renewable energy developers to potentially access the New England Renewable Energy market: it initiated a solicitation process seeking energy it will bundle with transmission capacity on its proposed Atlantic Link transmission project to bid "clean energy" into the New England market. This new renewable energy opportunity is yet another in the wave of projects lighting up the East Coast's renewable energy world. In December 2016, the Province of Nova Scotia released draft regulations to establish the Solar for Community Buildings Pilot Program, expected to launch in early 2017. And in October 2016, a Nova Scotia court cleared the way for the deployment of certain test tidal devices in Nova Scotia's Minas Basin.

Things are moving quickly, so developers interested in pursuing this new opportunity must act immediately. Here are the answers to five key questions about the opportunity the Atlantic Link Project offers renewable energy developers.

1. What's the Atlantic Link?

It's a subsea cable energy transmission project that Nova Scotia headquartered Emera Inc. proposes to develop to move clean energy from Atlantic Canada to New England. Emera describes the Atlantic Link Project as, "a proposed high voltage direct current (HVdc) transmission line that will deliver 900 megawatts (MW) of clean energy from Atlantic Canada directly to Massachusetts. The project will provide the Commonwealth, and the New England electricity system, long-term access to renewable energy at stable prices".

2. What's the new renewable energy opportunity?

It's expected that a significant RFP will be issued early in 2017 for the procurement of clean energy in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Emera has stated it intends to respond to this RFP with a two-component bid:

  • The transmission infrastructure (i.e. the "Atlantic Link").
  • The energy that will be "bundled" with, and flow through, this transmission infrastructure.

The Atlantic Link will transmit the energy from New Brunswick to Mass., but Emera needs to procure the energy that it will transmit via the Atlantic Link – and the provision of this energy represents opportunities for renewable energy developers and new clean energy projects in Atlantic Canada. To satisfy the need for this energy, on January 11, 2017, Emera issued a "notice of energy solicitation" to parties "willing to offer energy for purposes of establishing a bundled offer into the Massachusetts RFP".

3. What's "clean energy"?

The Mass. RFP will seek "clean energy generation". The Mass. law mandating the RFP ("An act to promote energy diversity") requires distribution companies to "jointly and competitively solicit proposals for clean energy generation", defined to include certain types of:

  • Hydroelectric generation.
  • Solar photovoltaic or solar thermal electric energy.
  • Wind energy.
  • Ocean thermal, wave or tidal energy.
  • Fuel cells utilizing renewable fuels.
  • Landfill gas.
  • Low emission advanced biomass power.
  • Marine or hydrokinetic energy.
  • Geothermal energy.

4. How will Emera select the successful proponent?

Emera's project website sets out the considerations it will apply to evaluate and rank the energy proposals:

Emera has retained a third party, Power Advisory LLC, as an independent administrator of its solicitation process.

5. What must a clean energy developer do to respond to Emera's proposal process?

Clean energy developers that want to produce clean energy to be "bundled" with the Atlantic Link must take a number of steps – and things are moving quickly, so developers interested in pursuing this opportunity must act immediately:

  • Technically, they must complete all the steps by the deadlines that Emera has established as set out in a calendar on its website. Most pressing is the requirement to register for Emera's solicitation and provide an executed Mutual Confidentiality Agreement by January 20, 2017. A conference for clean energy developers interested in participating in the solicitation, presumably limited to those that have registered, will follow on January 25, 2017.
  • Practically, interested developers will need to fully understand, from a legal, financial and technical perspective, the requirements of Emera's solicitation and how they wish to respond to it. For example, Emera notes financial capability as an evaluation criteria; to demonstrate this, a proponent will likely need to show how it intends to finance its project, and some progress to date. Emera also notes the likelihood of successful execution of an Indigenous People's declaration and plan as an evaluation criteria; to demonstrate this, a proponent will likely need to understand what such a declaration requires – and how to achieve it. A successful proponent will be required to execute several, potentially complex, agreements (for example, a Power Purchase Agreement).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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