Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro says water levels in its power plant reservoirs are lower than the seasonal average, but the utility is prepared to handle power demands.
In the House of Assembly this week, Progressive Conservative critic Keith Hutchings asked on two consecutive days about the lower-than-average reservoir levels and whether or not there was a risk of either blackouts or higher production costs as a result (given fuel costs for thermal power).
In an emailed response to questions from The Telegram, Hydro’s vice-president of production, Jennifer Williams, said the utility will be able to meet the province’s needs.
“While we sometimes face challenges — it’s important that people know we have confidence in our system and dedicated people who remain committed to delivering reliable electricity to our valued customers every day,” she stated.
The water levels stood at about 87 per cent of normal at the end of October, she said, confirming a figure offered by Natural Resources Siobhan Coady in response to Hutchings’ questions in the House of Assembly.
“The lower inflows to date also does not necessarily mean we will spend more this year on back up generation,” Williams said, when asked about additional requirements for the combustion turbine at the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station.
On Thursday, Coady tabled numbers relating to the usage of Holyrood thermal power. The numbers were also provided to The Telegram by Hydro.
Unexpectedly high usage of that combustion turbine unit in 2016 cost $20 million. Hydro stated the cost of fuel in 2017 is about $12 million.
To the end of October, incurred fuel costs for the Holyrood thermal plant are at $134 million.
When thinking about this winter, Williams said, people should also be aware there is the additional factor of the new third, main power line between the large Bay d’Espoir hydro plant and the Avalon peninsula. The line is scheduled to come into service in early December, she stated, providing another path for power and increasing overall system reliability.