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Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says province ready to sell power to states

BRETTON WOODS, N.H. - Armed with the knowledge that his New England counterparts saw their energy costs explode last winter, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is making it clear the province has plenty of power for sale.

Couillard attended the conference of New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers in New Hampshire on Monday, with energy emerging as a hot topic.

The premier said, however, that Quebec representatives will not meddle in the debate over the construction of new transmission lines, which are strongly opposed, particularly in New Hampshire.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy noted that extra energy costs caused by freezing temperatures last winter were the equivalent to the cost of two hydroelectric transmission lines.

New Hampshire's Northern Pass line project would have the capacity to transport 1,200 MW and would cost $1.4 billion to link the state and Quebec.

Hydro-Quebec president Thierry Vandal attended the meeting and said there has been some progress on the Northern Pass project despite reservations by New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Like Vermont before, Rhode Island and Connecticut have passed laws recognizing the renewable character of hydroelectricity. Massachusetts is also considering similar legislation, which would also facilitate the purchase of Quebec power.

Vandal said the recognition of the potential is there.

"There's a real need," he said. "The governor of Connecticut mentioned how costs were so expensive last winter because they were at the limit of their infrastructure. They need infrastructure."

Tom Marshall, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, also promoted the potential for power export from the Muskrat Falls project, which is under construction.

However, eventual exports from there will also depend on the construction of a transmission line between Nova Scotia and Maine.

The Canadian Press

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