Thursday, November 1, 2012

MUSKRAT FALLS POTPOURRI

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"I encourage people to go on to that rate calculator, 
punch in your information, and you will know exactly 
what your monthly bill is going to be from now until 
whatever time frame you want to pick,”
Ed Martin
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The charm offensive and information smog campaign by Nalcor, the Provincial Progressive Conservatives and proponents of the proposed $8 billion Muskrat Fall’s project is well underway.


Already, a key communications tool is backfiring. The government has been working double time to convince ratepayers that the project is not going to hit them any harder than other alternatives, particularly the retooling of the oil fired Holyrood Generating Facilty.

To prove that point the government rolled out an interactive hydro cost calculator that is supposed to show you what your electricity bill look like with or without the proposed Muskrat Falls development.

The problem is that the calculator may confuse people more than assist them. Critics want to know what the algorithms used to produce the results are based on - so far Nalcor has refused. As well, no one can predict the cost of electricity 20 years out because the PUB sets the rates. So much for transparency and honesty!

As well, the terms of the special debate regarding the proposal continue to be a thorn in the side of the opposition and folks who want a say in the approval/rejection of the project.  

Natural Resources Minister, Jerome Kennedy has ruled out a referendum and keeps saying that the terms of the special debate are based on precedence for emergency/special debates.

The precedence he speaks of is based on the FPI and Voisey Bay Debates. He has conveniently forgotten the special debates around the Meech Lake Accord that allowed for special witnesses to speak to the legislature.

Special witnesses could address the scary issues related to the very Conservative, if not deliberately misleading, overruns related to construction, or the inability to sell exported power? What about EMERA and the Nova Scotia PUB process? MHI could explain why we should have faith in them after the catastrophic job it has done on it’s own projects?

In private life, Kennedy was vocal in his condemnation of the structure of the Voisey’s Bay debate. His government is not bound by precedence; they could learn from the past and allow committees, witnesses and Q& A’s. The fact is that they are hiding from that level of accountability.

In reality, this government continues to ring fence this debate. Despite the last minute conversion to “transparency” and  Kennedy’s new found respect for the opposition, the fact is ….. it is all window dressing.

The government sets the terms of the special debate, they can create new precedence’s, if they wish too. Just as they could allow a referendum on the sanction of the project, if the really were committed to direct democracy and believed the project could pass a public test of support.

Another issue which is really of concern to me is the screw Quebec argument, which I would have no issue with, if it were true. How is this project going to do that? The transmission lines can not accommodate the potential power from Gull Island, let a lone the Upper Churchill? It is a very misleading suggestion, meant to pull on the emotional strings of a province that has been wronged in the past. What does this export deal unlock? I would argue, very little!

They think the public is stupid, perhaps they are right. The arsonists are in charge of the fire department and an unwitting public is footing the bill!

Are we sheep? 

The government is counting on it!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Governor of Vermont, where we're supposed to sell the excess power, said on the radio the other day, there is no corridor in the U.S. for the transmission of power from Muskrat Falls and it would have to be competitive with our current choices if we were to buy it. That was just before he went to Hydro-Québec and bought all kinds of power at 5 cents per megawatt hour - a long ways away from the $16.5 that the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador says Muskrat Falls may well cost.

Cyril Rogers said...

The Premier is underselling the cost of Muskrat power. She assumes, without consideration of the inevitable cost over runs, that it will be that much for us, delivered to Soldiers Pond. When the cost jumps by 25-50%, who pays?


Also, to produce and transmit it to U.S. markets is a highly dubious and costly prospect, given the small size of the transmission line to Nova Scotia, and the questionable links into Maine. It would cost in the 25-30 cent range and these utilities are not going to buy it for anywhere close to that. Ed Martin can talk about bidding on short term sales all he wants but the actual cost to produce it will always be higher than the price these utilities will pay. SO, WHO PAYS? The ratepayers of this province will, in effect, be subsidizing power to the mainland! How stupid are we?