A regulatory hearing begins in Halifax today, May 28, to determine whether the Maritime Link project is the lowest-cost option to provide clean energy and lower power rates for Nova Scotians. The Utility and Review Board hearing is expected to last up to three weeks and the board is expected to hear testimony from a large number of witnesses and experts. The board has been receiving and reviewing pre-filed evidence and submissions for the past four months. “This hearing is one of the most important energy hearings in the history of the province,” said Mat Whynott, ministerial assistant for Energy, on behalf of Energy Minister Charlie Parker. “Over the next three weeks, Nova Scotians will get the opportunity to better understand how the Maritime Link project will improve the energy and economic future of the entire province.” Independent expert witness John Dalton is expected to take the stand later this week or early next week. Mr. Dalton did a detailed assessment of three primary energy supply options for the province: adding hydroelectricity from the Maritime Link, importing hydroelectricity from Hydro Quebec, or a natural gas/wind mix. He concluded that the Maritime Link project is the lowest-cost option for Nova Scotians. The options were assessed based on the lowest, long-term cost to meet federal coal and greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, as well as the best fit for Nova Scotia’s strategic energy goals. The Maritime Link project is part of the province’s overall energy plan, which has five key points to ensure the lowest, fairest electricity rates for Nova Scotians. They are local, reliable, green, tax-free and efficient. The province’s energy plan has begun, and includes: removing the provincial portion of the HST of basic home electricity supporting efficiency efforts that help Nova Scotia families lower their bills and consume less electricity using more local, cleaner sources of energy to help stabilize prices and securing an energy supply for the long term. “Nova Scotia’s energy plan, including the Maritime Link, will help us meet our renewable electricity goals and federal greenhouse gas reduction requirements,” said Mr. Whynott. “It will ensure we have a stable, secure energy in the future and, most importantly, position us for current and future economic growth. “The future of the project is now in the hands of the UARB and I look forward to the regulatory hearing process and the final decision expected in July.” Nova Scotians interested in the hearings, can listen live at http://nsuarb.novascotia.ca/.