Saturday, February 21, 2009

TIME TO PULL TOGETHER

"It's really unfortunate when one of our own comes out and betrays us like that."
- Premier Williams reacting to Grand Falls-Windsor lawyer Mark Griffin

Columnist Konrad Yakabuski's and Grand Falls-Windsor lawyer Mark Griffin's outlandish suggestion that the Provincial Government's hard-nosed approach towards Abitibi-Consolidated was part of a plan to free up power for Long Harbour and improve access to fiber for the paper mill in Corner Brook has raised the dander of the Premier.

The Premier told the Telegram that the province didn't need the power from the Exploits River in order to accommodate the Long Harbour plant. "He said 70 megawatts were freed up when the Stephenville paper mill closed, and an additional 54 megawatts of wind power has also been added to the grid."

Yakabuski said "it takes guts to question Mr. Williams from within the province he rules with a firm hand and, to be truthful, a fair amount of fear." I say it does not take a lot of guts to create fiction and divide the local community at a time when they need to be pulling together. Nothing can be gained by diverting attention from the issue of trying to find a new operator for the mill or a new industry for the town.

The bottom line is that Abitibi wanted to get out of the paper business in this province and it is time to pick up the pieces. Our government made the right call by not allowing the largest paper maker in the world to exploit our province's resources to subsidize the company's international operations.

14 comments:

Edward G. Hollett said...

"Our government made the right call by not allowing the largest paper maker in the world to exploit our province's resources to subsidize the company's international operations."

One of the things I still haven't heard anyone explain is how exactly this was supposed to happen.

Any chance you could explain how you think ABH was going to "subsidize the company's international operations?"

Anonymous said...

This is just the kind of juicy conspiracy nonsense that those such as Morris Budgell get excited over. Budgell called into Bill Rowe on this very topic last week and basically embarrased himself.

Then we have The Sir Robert Bond Papers (Toilet Papers) giving it more of a push. This guy Hollett just loves to spout off nonsense on anything smelling of Danny Williams. He also has his groupies WJM and Simom Lono to cheerlead him on.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Ed:

If AI was no longer operating in Newfoundland and Labrador. Any money that it would be generating in the province would be going where?

It certainly would not be going to loggers in Newfoundland or Mill Workers in Grand Falls or Stephenville now would it?

Edward G. Hollett said...

Peter wrote:

"If AI was no longer operating in Newfoundland and Labrador. Any money that it would be generating in the province would be going where?"

That's exactly the point.

If they were not operating, how would they be generating revenue?

You haven't explained that part.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Ed:

At the bottom of this post there is a link to a post from mid last year where I state that AC was only interested in operating as a generator of Electricity in this province. Since these generous rights to producing hydro on our rivers was given for the purpose of operating or subsidizing the operation of a pulp mill. No pulp mill not hydro profits for the international.

Edward G. Hollett said...

The last link is to a search for all your posts with the word Abitibi in it.

The post you refer to - I think - is one in which you speculate that Abitibi had no interest in operating a paper mill. At the time, the mill was still operating.

One of the things we know isn't speculation is that the ability to sell surplus power into the grid allowed Abitibi to earn extra revenue which in effect subsidized the operation of the mill.

With the mill gone, it really isn't clear that ABH was interested in continuing to operate its hydro assets at all. To the contrary, everywhere else, the company is selling off its hydro assets even in places where it has mills it will continue to operate.

So again, I am just trying to get a handle on this scenario you create in which the expropriation was to prevent something from happening that - from information, not speculation - doesn't appear to have been happening.

Aside from speculation, do you have anything concrete to refer to?

Peter L. Whittle said...

Ed:

That is my point. They are selling hydro rights to write down their debts. Rights given to them by jurisdictions like ours for a purpose ie operating a mill.

Had the province waited, Abitibi would have attempted to sell those assets to private companies who had no interest in operating any other industry in the province.

I think that would be a messier scenario

WJM said...

They are selling hydro rights to write down their debts. Rights given to them by jurisdictions like ours for a purpose ie operating a mill.

No, not rights. Or, not just the rights: they are selling their entire hydro divisions, rights and physical plant, as turnkey operations for cash on the nail.

As has come out in these past 72 hours, one of the parties that was looking to buy that hydro operation was NALCO(R).

WJM said...

Had the province waited, Abitibi would have attempted to sell those assets to private companies who had no interest in operating any other industry in the province.

Ummm... just like NALCO(R), in other words?

Peter L. Whittle said...

And NALCOR is right where those assets should be with a public corporation developing our energy resources for the benefit of our people not some foreign stockholder.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Wally:

There would be no assets with out the hydro rights.

Edward G. Hollett said...

A one time sell-off is hardly a case of subsidizing the operations elsewhere, certainly not in the same way the ongoing sale of pwoer subsidized the local mills when they ran.

You wrote: "Had the province waited, Abitibi would have attempted to sell those assets to private companies who had no interest in operating any other industry in the province."

As we know now, ABH did try to sell one and only one interest in one asset and the province was able to stymie the transfer since it has to approve.

We don't know what the plans were for the rest of the hydro assets.

You also wrote: "Rights given to them by jurisdictions like ours for a purpose ie operating a mill.'

And again as I've note dbefore that's where your rationalization unravels. Star Lake wasn't developed to operate the mill.

But beyond all that, here's the question: if the power continued to be generated, what difference does it make to anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador who owns the generating assets?

The company can only sell power if Hydro is willing to buy it at least as far as a sale to the grid goes.

The price of electricity is regulated by the PUB so it isn't like these phantom foreigners you speculate about could somehow rip everyone off.

On top of that there are other local companies - Fortis Generation for example - that may well have purchased the assets.

Locally-based, private sector company. As it stands even the Fortis interest in generation was seized.

So how exactly does all this fit given that your entire argument - exploitation etc - is built on speculation and there are plenty of credible alternatives based on fact?

WJM said...

And NALCOR is right where those assets should be with a public corporation developing our energy resources for the benefit of our people not some foreign stockholder.

Should be?

What's the moral imperative?

Why public ownership of energy assets, but not mines or forests or fish plants?

WJM said...

There would be no assets with out the hydro rights.

Which is why, when pulp and paper companies get out of the electrical business, they sell their physical plant and water rights together.