Power companies in Newfoundland and Labrador are planning to increase their use of crystall power plants after a report showed the cost of power from these plants fell in 2016.

Newfoundland and Isles Minister of Energy and Resources Paul Stoddart said the province’s hydro system was in better shape than other provinces, which is an area of concern in an area where there are many hydro projects under way.

Stoddart told a news conference Thursday that the province plans to increase its use of hydropower, which uses water to cool turbines to generate electricity, from about 400 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts.

The province will have more than 600 hydro plants operating by the end of 2020, and is currently looking to buy another 500 hydro plants for $300 million, he said.

“We’re going to see the same level of hydro investment that we’ve seen in the past, and we expect that to continue.”

Stoddard also noted that in the winter months, the province has seen power bills drop due to the lack of cooling.

With hydro generating capacity limited, the power companies plan to increase the amount of water they use in their operations to increase power output and keep the cost down.

Hydropower is one of the few ways Newfoundland can reduce its dependence on imported energy.

Power from hydro is also less expensive than power from coal, wind and gas, Stoddard said.

Hydroelectric dams are more efficient and generate less carbon dioxide, he added.

The province also plans to purchase more than 20 million megawatt hours of hydro power in 2019, with the intention of adding to that in 2020.

That will provide the province with more than 700 megawatts of hydro capacity, more than the total capacity of its other hydro plants, Stodart said.

He also said that the Newfoundland Power Authority is in talks with private companies to provide power for municipalities.

It would be an additional $3 billion in annual funding for the province, he noted.

Stoddar said the state will continue to work on upgrading its hydropowers, but the plan is to add at least 300 megawatts more of them to the grid by the beginning of 2021.

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