Search

 

Cablegate: Nova Scotia's Emera Inc.: A Unique Energy Entity Poised For

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHHA #0004/01 0152208
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 152207Z JAN 10
FM AMCONSUL HALIFAX
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0017
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
INFO RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGA/AMCONSUL CALGARY
RUEHHA/AMCONSUL HALIFAX
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC 0010
RUEHVC/AMCONSUL VANCOUVER

UNCLAS HALIFAX 000004

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR WHA/CAN, EB/ESC/ISC
USDOE FOR IA (DEUTSCH)
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO FERC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG EPET ETRD PGOV CA
SUBJECT: Nova Scotia's Emera Inc.: A Unique Energy Entity Poised for
Growth in New England and Beyond

REF: HALIFAX 0002 AND PREVIOUS

1. Sensitive, but unclassified. Not for Internet distribution -
please protect.

2. (SBU) INTRODUCTION/SUMMARY: Consul General met recently with
James Spurr, a senior executive with Emera Inc. (www.emera.com), an
investor-owned, diversified energy company that owns Nova Scotia's
electricity monopoly, other electric utilities, and interests in
natural gas pipelines. Emera's assets now total $(Can.) 5.2
billion, but Spurr and his colleagues want to diversify and expand,
focusing on its established presence in New England and the
Caribbean. Closer to home, Emera could also have a role in
transmitting power from Labrador's Lower Churchill project,
although this idea comes with some trepidation including the spirit
of the negotiations with the Government of Newfoundland-Labrador
and the impact of the sale of New Brunswick Power to Hydro Quebec.
Spurr also commented on low natural gas prices and the effect that
this could have on further developing Nova Scotia offshore sector
as well as the impact on regional energy giant Irving. END
INTRODUCTION/SUMMARY

Emera in Expansion Mode: New England and the Caribbean Target Areas

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

3. (U) Spurr, who has had a long career in both the Nova Scotia
provincial government and the private energy sector, provided an
overview of Halifax-based Emera and how it has become a successful
investor-owned company in a region dominated by provincially-owned
utilities. Emera's core business strategy is to diversify and
expand its interests with a simple goal in mind - increasing the
profits for its shareholders. Along with its anchor utility, Nova
Scotia Power Inc., Emera also owns the Bangor Hydro Electric
Company, a utility in eastern Maine that it acquired in 2001. It
also has a 50-percent ownership in Bear Swamp, a hydro-electric
facility in Massachusetts. Spurr commented that these holdings,
with Emera's stake in natural gas pipelines going into New England,
make his company an important component in a more integrated
northeast energy market. A secondary target area for expansion is
in the Caribbean where Emera already has holdings in St. Lucia and
the Bahamas.

Emera and the Lower Churchill: "Are we being used here?"

--------------------------------------------- ------------

4. (SBU) Closer to home Spurr talked about another possible venture
for Emera: transmitting power from the proposed Lower Churchill
River project in Labrador to New England. Nova Scotia and
Newfoundland-Labrador (N-L) have an MOU to explore this option
which would require the construction of sub-sea and overland power
lines to transmit the power. Money issues aside, there would be
technological challenges to overcome in this scenario. However,
Spurr emphasized that with Emera's experience in dealing with
transmission systems, natural gas pipelines and its knowledge of
regulatory processes, it would not be an impossible feat. The
unknown factor, as Spurr explained, is N-L Premier Danny Williams.
Spurr explained that N-L had been the victim of bad resource deals
in the past which have left Williams very cautious if not
suspicious in his business negotiations. Given that legacy, Spurr
remarked that he and his senior colleagues are equally cautious in
dealing with the premier, with knowledge it makes more financial
sense for N-L to do a deal with Quebec than with them. In fact,
Spurr indicated he wouldn't be surprised if William ended up doing
just that, and leaving Spurr and colleagues to speculate that
Williams might be using them to exert more pressure on Quebec to
offer a better deal for N-L.

The NB Power-Hydro Quebec Deal: "A Grave Political Misstep"


--------------------------------------------- -------------

5. (SBU) Also with Quebec, Spurr commented on the issue of the
pending sale of New Brunswick Power to Hydro Quebec, a development
which would have ramifications for Emera in delivering Churchill
power to the U.S. market. For that reason Spurr came out to
endorse Nova Scotia Premier Dexter's demands that his province and
N-L get a guaranteed transmission corridor through New Brunswick
should the deal be ratified. As an aside, Spurr pondered why New
Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham took the bold step in trying to sell
the heavily indebted utility. While Spurr considered the move to
be a smart one economically, politically, he termed it a grave
misstep, pondering why advance polling that would have predicted
the adverse reaction had not been undertaken. Spurr predicted the
Graham government would not survive this political storm, and as
the CG heard on a January 8 trip to New Brunswick, there are those
strongly urging the Premier to do some major rethinking to avoid
losing his September 2010 re-election bid. In fact, well-placed
New Brunswickers told the CG they believe the Premier may be forced
to abandon the deal altogether. Also with this issue, Spurr said
Emera has no fears of Hydro Quebec targeting its NSPI for a
takeover bid, explaining that there were strict, legislative
measures that prevent outside interests from buying up a majority
of the utility's shares.

Negative Tones: Low Gas Prices and Trouble at Irving?

--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (SBU) With Emera's 12.9 percent share in the pipeline that
transports natural gas from offshore Nova Scotia into New England,
Spurr was able to provide some insight into how he saw the effect
that low gas prices were having on Nova Scotia's offshore natural
gas industry. Specifically, he pondered how this situation was
affecting Nova Scotia's second natural gas development, the Deep
Panuke project. He said for now, developer Encana is sticking by
its original plan to bring the project on stream by late 2010 or
early 2011. However, he feared that future exploration and
development could be impacted by a prolonged recovery in prices.
Spurr also went on to ponder how the powerful Irving empire was
dealing with the lower prices. He reported Irving had been quick
to sell off its Bayside natural gas plant in New Brunswick to Emera
at a price which Spurr said his company never thought possible.
While Spurr acknowledged the Bayside plant has had serious problems
with its turbines, Emera believed they were not insurmountable.
This led him to question if Irving's fiscal situation might be
deteriorating.

COMMENT: Emera Fine Tuning Its Growth Strategy

--------------------------------------------- ---

7. (U) As Spurr illustrated by his overview of Emera's holdings and
business plans, it appears shareholders are pushing the company to
expand well beyond its Nova Scotia borders. In this introductory
meeting, Spurr pledged to follow-up with expected implications for
the New England's energy market. In the short term, he will also
keep post appraised of how he sees unfolding events in New
Brunswick, N-L and Quebec having an impact on how Emera might
structure this growth strategy. After all, unlike its
provincially-owned counterparts in the neighboring provinces,
Emera's growth is not confined to its own province. Instead, the
company plans to expand to areas that promise the best returns to
its shareholders, not what might be best politically. END COMMENT
SMITH

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


CNS: Will India's 1 Billion Vaccination-dose-milestone Be Catalytic For Vaccinating All?

On 21 October 2021, India crossed its milestone of administering over 1 billion (100 crores) doses within 278 days since it began the vaccination rollout (on 16th January 2021)... More>>

UN: UNHCR Chief Urges Better Support For 13 Million 'Exhausted' And Displaced Syrians
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has urged greater international support for the more than 13 million Syrians who’ve been displaced in the past 10 years...More>>


>UN: Recent Kosovo-Serbia Tensions Could ‘Unravel Steady But Fragile Progress’

Tensions over vehicle licence plates and anti-smuggling operations, between authorities in Kosovo and Serbia, in recent weeks, may contribute to unravelling “steady but fragile progress made in rebuilding trust among communities” in Kosovo and Serbia...
More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs


UN: With Clock Ticking, Sustainable Transport Key To Global Goals
From electric cars and buses to zero-carbon producing energy sources, new and emerging technologies along with innovative policy changes, are critical for combating climate change. But to be effective, they must ensure that transport strategies benefit everyone, including the poorest... More>>


COP26: 7 Climate Action Highlights To Remember

A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum... More>>


UN: Global Leaders Set To Act To Increase Energy Access While Reducing Emissions At First UN Energy Summit In 40 Years

Significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity are expected to be announced on 24 September at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy... More>>