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N.S. premier concerned about feasibility of Atlantic Loop project

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia premier concerned about feasibility of Atlantic Loop project'
Nova Scotia premier concerned about feasibility of Atlantic Loop project
WATCH: Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says he’s lost confidence in the feasibility of a proposed energy link connecting the Atlantic provinces to hydroelectricity from Quebec and Labrador. – Apr 5, 2023

Nova Scotia’s premier says he has lost confidence in the Atlantic Loop, a proposed megaproject that would give the Maritime provinces more access to hydroelectricity from Quebec and Labrador.

Premier Tim Houston’s comments come one day after federal Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he hoped the Atlantic Loop could come online by 2030. Ottawa has signaled a desire to have an agreement in principle in the coming months.

“I would say I’m not optimistic about the Atlantic Loop as it stands right now,” Houston told reporters on Wednesday at the legislature.

“(It’s because of) the passage of time, certainly the relationship — seeing what’s happened in the province with power rates — the relationship between the ratepayers and the utility has caused me to really look at the file.”

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That’s a stark contrast to LeBlanc’s comments on Tuesday, made in Halifax.

“I’m every bit as optimistic as I was before that we can have this significant megaproject online by 2030 but time is of the essence, and we recognize on our side we can’t cause any delays,” he said.

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“We hope the provinces and utilities are as committed as we think they are.”

But Houston says he’s not investing time into figuring money out until Ottawa commits to a number.

The provincial minister responsible says the cost-shared price tag he has been hearing is around $10 billion, however more details are needed before he can calculate what Nova Scotia’s contribution would be.

“(I want Minister LeBlanc to) put his cards on the table and let’s see what that number is and we’ll certainly be at the table for the conversation. But without the federal government at that table assisting with this project, the ratepayers of Nova Scotia cannot afford this,” said Tory Rushton, Nova Scotia’s Natural Resources and Renewables Minister.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia government says still no commitment from Ottawa on Atlantic Loop'
Nova Scotia government says still no commitment from Ottawa on Atlantic Loop

Opposition parties, however, say the province is dropping the ball.

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“It’s concerning that he doesn’t have any optimism about that project,” said Liberal Leader Zach Churchill.

“That project is really critical to hit our renewable targets but also to make sure that power rates, over the long term, are lower than they are now because coal is a lot more expensive.”

NDP Leader Claudia Chender criticizes the premier for not having an alternative plan.

“The Atlantic Loop has never been a sure thing and so I think for the premier to start to question whether that’s the right approach without providing any tangible alternative is really concerning for the environmental future of our province,” she said.

Meanwhile, Houston told reporters that more wind, solar and energy from the Muskrat Falls project, could help fill a void if the Loop doesn’t materialize.

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