1. What is the Atlantic Link?
  2. Who owns the Atlantic Link?
  3. Is this a safe way to transmit electricity?
  4. Has Emera or NB Power built a project like this before?
  5. Why is the Atlantic Link needed?
  6. What are the major parts of this project?
  7. Is this an underwater power line?
  8. Does this kind of cable affect marine life?
  9. Where will the project come ashore in Massachusetts?
  10. What is HVdc?
  11. How much power is 900 megawatts?
  12. How will this project benefit New England electricity customers?
  13. What kinds of regulatory requirements are there for this project?
  14. What about electromagnetic fields (EMFs)?
  15. Will there be community meetings on the project?
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What is the Atlantic Link?

The Atlantic Link is a proposed 900-megawatt, high voltage direct current (HVdc) transmission line that will deliver clean energy to southern New England from Atlantic Canada. This project is being proposed in response to a mid-2017 procurement for clean energy mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Who owns the Atlantic Link?

The Atlantic Link is 100% owned by Emera Inc. Emera is a publicly-traded company with approximately US$21 billion in assets. NB Power, a provincial Crown corporation in the Province of New Brunswick, holds an option to participate in the Atlantic Link as a minority investor.

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Is this a safe way to transmit electricity?

Yes. Similar projects, some much larger in scale, have been developed in many parts of the world, providing experience and effective models to draw upon. Emera is currently completing construction of a new 500-megawatt HVdc transmission system with a 110-mile subsea portion between the Atlantic Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The project will be in-service in 2017 and is currently on-time and on-budget.

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Has Emera or NB Power built a project like this before?

Yes. Emera is currently in the process of building a new 500-megawatt transmission system with a 110-mile subsea portion between the Atlantic Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. Emera and NB Power partnered about 10 years ago to build Northeast Reliability Interconnect (NRI), an 85-mile overhead AC transmission line connecting the province of New Brunswick and the state of Maine. This transmission line required a Presidential Permit in the United States. The line went into service in late 2007.

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Why is the Atlantic Link needed?

This project is being proposed in response to an expected 2017 procurement for clean energy mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The procurement is intended to diversify the Commonwealth’s energy mix and help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to GHG reduction targets established under the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. This energy is also needed to replace the ISO-New England energy that will be lost with the scheduled closure in mid-2019 of the Pilgrim Nuclear Station. Atlantic Link is one of several proposed projects related to the RFP process.Atlantic Link is one of several proposed projects expected to compete in the Commonwealth’s clean energy procurement process.

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What are the major parts of this project?

The Atlantic Link project involves installing two HVdc (high-voltage direct current) transmission cables – entering the water near an existing electric substation at Coleson Cove, New Brunswick and coming ashore at a site near the Pilgrim nuclear generating station at Plymouth, MA.  The two cables will be installed close together in the same corridor and extend roughly 350 miles.

The following elements and associated infrastructure will also be built:

  • two converter stations and adjoining substations
  • onshore anchoring sites
  • other infrastructure, as required
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Is this an underwater power line?

Yes. Depending on landing site, 95-100% of the route is under water. As proposed, the subsea cable will be 13-14% in Canada and Canadian waters; 86-87% in the United States and United States waters (including Canadian and U.S. exclusive economic zones).
 
Subsea routing makes for a simplified construction process, including fewer splices on the HVDC cable, along with greater reliability and lower cost. The routing of the cable, and its installation, is being planned to minimize impact on marine life and habitat. The largely marine routing proposed for the Atlantic Link reduces impacts on landowners. Emera is committed to consultation with those who have an interest in the area where the cable is to be installed. The marine portion of the line will be laid so that it follows natural protective features such as deep sea valleys and ocean contours. Where necessary, it will be buried 3-5 feet under the ocean floor - for example, the line will be covered for protection where the ocean floor is too hard to trench. Rock is generally used for this type of cover.

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Does this kind of cable affect marine life?

The routing of the cable, and its installation, is being planned to minimize impact on marine life and habitat. The Atlantic Link is subject to review and approval by environmental regulatory bodies in both Canada and the United States. Route development will include input from those who have an interest in areas where we propose to install the cable. Actual cable installation will be planned so it occurs during periods where we are able to avoid or minimize disruption of normal activities, including fishing/harvesting. Where possible, the cable will be buried with minimal disruption to the seabed. The cable will be buried 3-5 feet under the ocean floor. Where the ocean floor does not permit burial, the line will be covered for protection. Rock is generally used for this type of protection. More information is available in our fact sheet, Subsea HVdc cables and the marine environment.

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Where will the project come ashore in Massachusetts?

There are two potential landing sites in Massachusetts – either just north of Boston, or near the Pilgrim nuclear generating station at Plymouth. We are currently engaging with stakeholders to confirm which one makes the most sense.

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What is HVdc?

HVdc (high-voltage direct current) is an established technology with a long track record of reliable and safe operation around the world. HVdc systems use direct current to transmit electricity rather than alternating current (AC). HVdc electricity transmission systems are less expensive and lose less electricity when used for long-distance power transmission.

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How much power is 900 megawatts?

One megawatt (MW) of electricity is enough electricity for around 600 homes on days when demand for power is highest, like a hot summer or cold winter day. The 900 MW from the Atlantic Link could provide electricity to as many as 540,000 homes on that sort of day.

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How will this project benefit New England electricity customers?

This project would provide New England electricity customers with cost-effective access to Canadian hydropower and onshore wind farms (in Canada or Maine). It would be part of an effort to diversify the energy mix in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to GHG reduction targets established under the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. This energy is also needed to replace the energy that will be lost with the scheduled closure in mid-2019 of the Pilgrim Nuclear Station.

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What kinds of regulatory requirements are there for this project?

This project will require a number of state, federal and provincial regulatory approvals in both Canada and the United States, including a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy and an export permit from Canada’s National Energy Board. The permitting process is expected to take roughly 24 months.

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What about electromagnetic fields (EMFs)?

Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are produced by natural forces like the earth’s magnetic field or lightning. EMFs are also generated by electricity and other man-made sources like computers and cell phones. Both electric and magnetic field levels decrease rapidly as you move away from the source.

When electricity flows through a power line, it produces both an electric field and a magnetic field. Direct current (DC) is constant, like current from a battery. Its electric and magnetic fields are also constant and are referred to as static fields. Natural and man-made static fields are all around us. If you've ever walked across a carpet and been shocked when you touched a doorknob, you've experienced a static electric field. Static electric and magnetic fields associated with DC transmission lines aren't generally considered to pose a health concern or to have harmful impacts on marine life.

To find out more about EMFs, visit http://www.emfs.info/. You'll find HVDC-specific information at http://www.emfs.info/static-fields/. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has also issued observations regarding EMFs from submarine cables : https://www.boem.gov/OREP-Environmental-Studies-EMF-Fact-Sheet/.

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Will there be community meetings on the project?

We are committed to ongoing consultation with stakeholders and the public. We believe it is important to maintain and develop relationships with landowners, residents and elected officials along the Atlantic Link route. Please contact us if you would like to meet.

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