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Hydro-Québec to supply electricity, plant refurbishment expertise to NB Power

Hydro-Québec agreed to extend a power-supply agreement with neighboring New Brunswick's electricity utility and agreed to help NB Power refurbish a hydroelectric station to extend its life.

Under the agreement announced Jan. 10, the Quebec government-owned utility will supply New Brunswick with 47 TWh between now and 2040. The agreement extends a contract that started in 2012, the companies said in a joint statement. Hydro-Québec will also assist NB Power with finding a solution to a concrete deterioration problem at its Mactaquac generating station that could extend the life of that facility through 2068. The companies also agreed to discuss adding transmission interconnections between Quebec and New Brunswick.

"Thanks to a major build-out of our generation facilities, Hydro-Québec has a lot of energy available, and we're thrilled to be contributing to New Brunswick's clean energy supply over the next two decades," Hydro-Québec CEO Éric Martel said in the statement. The company generates power from reservoirs in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador and is a major exporter of electricity to the U.S. Northeast.

New Brunswick has been working to wean itself from the fossil fuel generators that make up much of the province's installed capacity. In addition to importing hydroelectric power from Quebec, the province has embarked on an aggressive renewables strategy and partnered with Saskatchewan and Ontario to explore the development of small modular nuclear reactors. New Brunswick operates the only Canadian nuclear power plant outside of Ontario.

Mactaquac, which started producing power in 1968, was expected to be shuttered early because of concrete problems known as alkali-aggregate reactions that affect the powerhouse and spillway. The earthen dam on the St. John River, which holds back a head pond approximately 96 kilometers long, is not affected by the problem. The plant has a capacity of 668 MW.

"Hydro-Québec's expertise in AAR mitigation will be very helpful to our Life Achievement project at Mactaquac and will translate into significant capital cost savings on the project," NB Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas said in the statement.