With the release of second quarter financial results on Thursday, Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall said completion of the struggling hydropower megaproject is in sight and could, within a month, start producing power, which will be then sold at lower costs to electricity users in Newfoundland. and Labrador.
But getting the electricity to Newfoundland will take a little longer.
A problem with the transmission software – the Labrador-Island Link – is still being resolved.
Marshall said General Electric – the company working on the software – was still fixing issues, but added that he felt better about the project than he had done for a long time.
“They have worked throughout the COVID period which is very positive. Obviously, they’ve lost some of their productivity because of COVID, but we’re now past a critical phase, ”Marshall said.
“We have tested all aspects of the software in factory acceptance testing. We have identified some bugs that they are still working on, but now we have a version that allows us to load. We loaded. We’ve tested. We have started the tests. ”
Work was suspended at Muskrat Falls and the Soldiers Pond Transmission Center in March due to the pandemic, but resumed in June. Due to the disruption, the completion of the project was delayed for four months.
But there could be an additional two to six months, depending on the level of productivity and the number of workers allowed on the site following COVID-19 guidelines this fall, Marshall added.
Marshall said another version of the software is expected this fall, but the final version is not expected until next spring.
Testing of the Labrador-Island Link software will continue over the next few months, with intermittent power on the island, he said.
Marshall said it was difficult to estimate how much energy will actually be flowing during this time, but it could be a lot.
“It will start in the next month, and before the thing is finally commissioned, there should be a substantial amount of power delivered,” he said.
“The income from this, the proceeds from this, will help mitigate rates. ”
Commissioning work and an inspection is underway in Unit 1, Marshall said, and the second unit is expected to be online before the end of 2020.
Marshall said he would provide an update at the end of September on the full effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cost and schedule of the project.
To date, the project has cost $ 11.5 billion.
In March, Husky Energy announced the suspension of construction on the West White Rose project due to COVID-19. Marshall said engineering, preservation and maintenance, as well as some procurement activities have continued while the project is under review.
“At the date of suspension, the project was about 58% complete,” he said. “Production remains stable in White Rose, as well as in the Hebron and Hibernia fields, and all facilities are operating with improved scouting arrangements and physical distance measurements for site workers.
Marshall said he met and briefed Prime Minister Andrew Furey last week on the status of the Muskrat Falls project.
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