I have a confession.
I vividly remember the than opposition leader delivering his passionate vision to the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce at the Keyano Motel. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. A rush of exuberant expectancy, of optimism and of idealism rushed over me.
Here was the steely blue eyed former chair of Newfoundland Light and Power,offering us a way to unlock the potential of the Lower Churchill, to escape the death grip of Quebec. When questioned about the technical challenges of stepping the power up and down, of the dangers of icebergs scrapping the ocean bottom and markets, he responded with authority.
Of course, when he assumed the mantle of Premier in 1989, the cupboards were bare. The province was sinking in debt, austerity ruled the day. There was no room for emotion, optimism or idealism. The Anglo-Saxon route was too costly, we did not have any partners and Newfoundland and Labrador could not do it on it's own. The passionate flame, the hope of getting around Quebec was as dead as Tom Rideout's premiership.
Clyde Well's dream of an Anglo- Saxon route, the opportunity to unlock the potential of Labrador Hydro without Quebec via Nova Scotia was a concept whose time had come. A couple of year's later, I still like the project..but it all hinges on the finances.
The inability of Emera and Nalcor to settle on the final terms has me questioning if the Nova Scotia Company might be thinking that it's power security may lie south of the border. The rapid development of natural gas exploitation has become a real game changer in the United States.
Is it possible that Muskrat is doomed in the short term? Should we be looking at alternatives like our offshore natural gas to supply our immediate needs? How much extra value is there in running the power to the island, and over to Nova Scotia, if we cannot compete with emerging energy sources? Are we not wiser to dust off the LNG studies of the past, and position our province for future opportunities?
Can hydro compete, in the short term? That is the big question. With a current fleet of 104 aging reactors, providing 20 percent of the American electricity supply, requiring replacement reactors by 2030, there is window is opening up for reliable, safe power.. Coal burning facilities provide another 46% of America's electricity needs? Will natural gas displace coal? Is there any room in the short term for Labrador Power?
As someone, who passionately desires the Anglo-Saxon route.....who feels it provides an environmentally friendlier option to coal and oil sourced thermal energy......who feels investing income from non-renewable royalties in renewable economic energy makes sense.....I find myself wondering about the export potential of this project, and thus the viability of Labrador Power as a solution to our insular needs.
Have we all ready missed a window of opportunity, or is one opening-up?
It is a perplexing issue.