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N.S. premier happy with changes to deal with Hydro-Quebec

Premier Darrell Dexter is happy New Brunswick is keeping control of itspower lines, but there are questions about what effect, if any, thiswill have on Nova Scotia.

Premier Darrell Dexter is happy New Brunswick is keeping control of its power lines, but there are questions about what effect, if any, this will have on Nova Scotia.

The New Brunswick Liberals yesterday, responding to a huge public backlash, announced they were altering the deal with Hydro-Quebec. New Brunswick will now retain control of its transmission lines and some other assets.

Dexter and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams had been worried Quebec would use New Brunswick’s lines to ship power to New England, shutting out Atlantic Canada from the market.

“It’s not what we gain, it’s what we don’t give up,” Dexter said yesterday of the new deal.

“We wanted to be dealing with the government of New Brunswick, it’s their province. Quebec has its own set of interests.”

But Charles Cirtwill, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, said the new deal doesn’t change much. Provinces have been and still will be able to bid on excess line capacity to New England.

“They had open access yesterday, they had it before the MOU was signed, they’re going to have it today and they’re going to have it on April 1,” he said.

“So in terms of Danny and Darrell and the others, there’s no big change for them. This isn’t a huge victory from their perspective.”

In fact, the new deal guarantees Quebec a certain amount of capacity, so there may be less for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to bid on. But Cirtwill agrees New Brunswick is a much easier business partner.

“It’s a lot easier for a province like Nova Scotia to negotiate with the folks in New Brunswick than it is to negotiate with a much larger, much more substantial province like Quebec, particularly when you look at Quebec’s hard-line negotiating history around this file,” he said.