June 20, 2019 2:15 pm
Updated: June 20, 2019 4:20 pm

Quebec’s top court sides with N.L. in Churchill Falls dispute with Hydro-Québec

Hydro-Québec utility retains the right to sell Churchill Falls energy up to a monthly cap.

The Canadian Press

Newfoundland and Labrador has achieved a rare win in its long-standing battle with Hydro-Québec over a 50-year-old agreement on sales of power from the Churchill Falls generating station.

A Quebec Court of Appeal decision Thursday ruled that Churchill Falls Corp. Ltd. — a subsidiary of Newfoundland’s Crown corporation overseeing hydroelectricity — has the right to sell energy produced above a certain threshold.

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READ MORE: Supreme Court sides with Hydro-Québec in Churchill Falls dispute

“Hydro-Québec does not have the exclusive right to purchase, and receive, all of the energy produced by the Upper Churchill power plant,” Justice Jacques Chamberland wrote, reversing a trial court ruling from 2016.

Hydro-Québec utility retains the right to sell Churchill Falls energy up to an annual cap.

The decision is the latest round in a battle that reached the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled last year that Hydro-Québec had no obligation to modify its 1969 deal with the Atlantic province.

READ MORE: Supreme Court to rule on Quebec-N.L. feud over Churchill Falls hydro riches

Under the agreement, which is valid until 2041, Hydro-Québec can purchase the majority of electricity from the central Labrador facility. The utility had argued successfully the deal was valid because it had assumed all the costs and risks that came with the project when the contract was signed.

Thursday’s decision concerns how a contract that has been highly profitable for Hydro-Québec should be interpreted since September 2016, rather than whether it should be renegotiated.

“Hydro-Québec is satisfied with the fact that the Quebec Court of Appeal confirms it’s right to operational flexibility stated in the 1969 contract and rejects the notion of monthly caps,” said spokesman Cendrix Bouchard.

The utility said it is analyzing the decision before deciding whether to file an appeal.

WATCH: Supreme Court of Canada rules in favour of Hydro-Québec over Churchill Falls energy deal (Nov. 2018)

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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