Liberals accuse government of hiding info on the Lower Churchill
The Liberals continued to ask for more information on the recently signed Lower Churchill agreement in the House of Assembly Tuesday.
Interim Liberal leader Kelvin Parsons accused the government of privatizing the province’s transmission lines by giving Emera Energy a 29 per cent share of the total Muskrat Falls project.
“Why has government decided to privatize the transmission of power, when the people of Newfoundland spoke quite loudly and clearly some years ago on privatization of hydro?” he asked.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale suggested Emera is only getting what they will pay for.
“Emera Energy is buying $1.2 billion of energy from Newfoundland and Labrador over the next 35 years.” she said.
“They are buying 20 per cent of the power from Muskrat Falls. So they will pay 20 per cent of the capital expenses, which is $1.2 billion. They will pay 20 per cent of the maintenance and operational costs of the whole generation and transmission of electricity.”
Parsons then said the deal is based on two main premises — that the future energy needs of the province will increase and that the cost to keep the Holyrood generating station open will add up to more than building Muskrat Falls.
“Given that information is not where Nalcor said it was, what information do you have, or can you provide to the public, to justify your assumption about the future energy needs of this province?” asked Parsons.
Dunderdale said the information was filed with the Public Utilities Board in July.
“What is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, is despite the amount of information made available to the Opposition, they still don’t seem to be any further enlightened,” she said.
Then Parsons asked about the second premise.
“Where are the studies and the estimates which justify your claim that the Holyrood power is more expensive than the high-cost energy you want to produce at Muskrat Falls?” he asked.
Dunderdale replied by saying it was “absolutely scandalous” a former cabinet minister isn’t more familiar with both Holyrood’s environmental and maintenance costs.
“We would have to spend ... almost $1 billion to fix Holyrood to a degree that it had at least a minimal effect on the environment,” she said.
Parsons also asked how a meeting between the Labrador Innu and Ottawa went last week. Former premier Danny Williams was at that meeting.
Dunderdale suggested Parsons ask the Innu or the federal government.
Parsons then asked if the province has consulted with the Labrador Metis Nation on the Lower Churchill deal.
Dunderdale said consultations on the project are part of the ongoing environmental assessment process, and that’s when the Metis will be able to voice any concerns they have.
“We have provided, through Nalcor, substantial funding to (the Metis) so that they can get the proper research done and have a comprehensive response to the development of Muskrat Falls,” she said.