Premier has trouble with leader’s math
The province’s Liberals want more information about the Lower Churchill deal to develop Muskrat Falls.
In the House of Assembly Monday, interim leader Kelvin Parsons asked Premier Kathy Dunderdale what the $143 per megawatt hour cost of Muskrat power includes.
“Will the premier provide us today with a breakdown of that cost? Does it include, for example, transmission cost and financing cost, or any other associated cost?” he asked. “Is that $143 just the charge for generation of the electricity at Muskrat Falls, or is that the end cost to the consumers in their homes?”
Dunderdale said when she talks about costs, she talks about the total costs of the project and she acknowledged the details of the deal are complex.
“If it would help the members opposite understand what we have agreed to with Emera (Energy) better, then I am prepared, Mr. Speaker, to talk to Nalcor and to the Department of Natural Resources to prepare further briefings for the members of the Opposition,” she said.
But Parsons suggested the Liberals couldn’t trust the governments briefings.
“The premier is reluctant to tell us exactly how it is broken out. Do you notice that? Pretty cagey. She does not say exactly how it is broken out here, and what it is going to cost the rate payers,” he said.
The Liberals suggest the deal could end up costing the people of the province higher electricity bills for years to come.
Dunderdale then tried to break down the numbers.
She said $143 per megawatt hour includes construction of the dam at Muskrat Falls, and the transmission costs to, and throughout, the island.
“That is what’s included to bring power from Muskrat Falls to offset Holyrood, and once we take all of those costs into account, Mr. Speaker, we arrive at the sum of $143 per megawatt hour,” she said.
Brings up past deal
Parsons then brought up the deal to develop the Upper Churchill, calling it one of the worst in the province’s history.
“In light of our history with the Upper Churchill, why is government agreeing to give Emera Energy of Nova Scotia free power for 35 years?” he asked.
“Not only are (the taxpayers) going to be put on the hook for the $4.5 billion (to develop the Lower Churchill), which gets added to our public debt, but we are also financing it through higher electricity rates in their homes. Why the sweet deal for Emera, I say to the premier?” said Parsons.
Dunderdale fired back.
“How $1.2 billion translates into zero dollars for electricity is something that I am unable to wrap my mind around. Mr. Speaker, we have costed the power we are selling to Emera at $95 per megawatt hour, escalating to $125 over the 35 years. Mr. Speaker, that works out to be $1.2 billion,” she said.
“What we have said to them is, instead of giving us the $1.2 billion over 35 years, give it to us all now, we will build the Maritime link with it now, and we will save the people of Newfoundland and Labrador hundreds of millions of dollars in financing costs by doing it that way.”
Parsons called that spin.
Outside the House, he used one of the government’s mantras against it.
“This is a government that always talks about no more give aways,” he said. “I think this is a perfect example of another give away.”