Nalcor acknowledges delays in review responses

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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With ‘extra resources on,’ MHI report done, CEO looking forward

Ed Martin — File photo

Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin has made no secret of the fact the company failed to make submissions to the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) and Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) on the proposed $6.2-billion Muskrat Falls hydro project as early as all parties had expected.

On Wednesday, The Telegram asked Martin about a letter sent Jan. 31, 2012 to the PUB by MHI, in which managing director of subsidiary operations, Paul Wilson, noted “a number of challenges encountered” in the creation of MHI’s review report on the project.

Wilson stated questions submitted to Nalcor “took anywhere from five to a maximum of 119 days” to receive a response, with 22 days being the average.

He noted Nalcor’s final submission to the PUB was expected in July 2011, but was actually made Nov. 10, 2011, “adding significant delays to the overall review process.”

MHI would not make any further statement on the subject when contacted by The Telegram this week.

However, Nalcor Energy did take questions.

“We’re 100 per cent committed to the process here. That’s never been an issue,” Martin told The Telegram.

“That being said, I think it’s fair to say we had underestimated, particularly in the early days, the volume of work that would be required to answer some of the detailed questions that we were receiving.”

In its own letters to the PUB, Nalcor has stated the same team of individuals had initially been answering questions for the independent reviews of the PUB and MHI, on top of answering questions for the review by Navigant Consulting and answering questions from media.

Responses fell behind.

“We put extra resources on and ended up, as we moved closer to the end of the year, we obviously got caught up,” Martin said.

Meanwhile, one further item was raised in MHI’s Jan. 31 letter.

Nalcor has been using a “gated” process, where it draws together all the information it has before making the decision to proceed to the next phase of the process. The letter stated a number of documents MHI had expected to see at the point of its review were not available.

“For example, at Decision Gate 2 one would normally expect that  system integration studies would be complete, that the transmission line design criteria would be prepared as part of the design basis for the transmission line, and that the relevant single line diagrams for the HVdc converter station equipment would be available. These types of documents are required to determine inputs for the base cost estimate,” it stated.

In response, Martin said the points raised have been put to his technical team and he has no intention of dismissing them out of hand.

He committed to more work up front, should it be determined there is work that needs to be done before the next Decision Gate.

Following a debate on the project at VOCM studios in St. John’s Wednesday night, Minister of Natural Resources Jerome Kennedy said more specific cost estimates and financing numbers for the project were expected before they make the “Gate 3” decision, when the government formally sanctions the project and proceeds with construction.

Organizations: Manitoba Hydro International, The Telegram, Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities Navigant Consulting

Geographic location: Decision Gate

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Recent comments

  • Johnny the muskrat ya da tidy Lmfao
    February 12, 2012 - 17:47

    I'd say if we all listen to john smith we'll all have a stupid look on our faces. We could use the 40% of the power we are giving away and help john smith get a clue about things that are WAY over his head. Oh datz rite....and quit leaving your standup notes on these funny as they are!

  • Johnny's Secret Identity
    February 10, 2012 - 18:58

    Speaking of tools. If you're so confident in your beliefs "John Smith" how come you don't have the guts to stand behind them? You do more harm to this project than good, with your name-calling and condescending attitude. If it's such a good project it should stand on it's own merits. Leave it to the experts at Nalcor. At least the ones who have the stones to use their real name. Do you get paid by the number of times you regurgitate your talking points? Either here as "John Smith", cbc as "GodGuardTheeNL", emails to Paddy, emails to Randy. The only media you haven't infiltrated is television as then you'd have to crawl out from behind your rock and show your face. If you really are a person with any amount of authority as it relates to this project then god help us.

  • Maggy Carter
    February 10, 2012 - 16:29

    Isn't it amazing how low some people will stoop to pick up a buck? There is indeed a huge conspiracy here. It is a conspiracy of silence instigated and carried out at great public expense to see Newfoundland's next great boondoggle make its way through the public accountability process. You'd think a province with our history of boondoggles and scams would welcome public scrutiny. Instead ministers of the crown have done their utmost to stifle debate and to ridicule those who dare question the project. The chief conspirator, NALCOR, is almost bragging how it has managed to gut the review process by denying it the basic facts and figures that would make any such review possible. But there are limits on what ministers and crown corp executives dare say publicly about this project's detractors. Those detractors include some of this province's most educated, accomplished and experienced professionals. To undermine these people, they instead call on their faceless, nameless goons to mug them in the back alleys of the local media. One by one they pick them off. This one used to be a liberal, that one is way too old to know what he's talking about, the other one is a lunatic. How putrid is this deal that these upstanding citizens - people with much better things to do with their time - are willing to put their names, their reputations and in some cases even their longstanding affiliation with the conservative party in jeopardy because they can no longer hold their noses. These are people who have nothing to gain by opposing this deal and, in some cases, quite a bit to lose in taking on a government that is known to harbour grudges. Take a look at the list of citizens openly opposed to this deal. Then look at the other side of the ledger. Other than those who are directly involved or who have something to gain, name one competent, credible individual who is prepared to stand up for this project. Even Wade Lock, whose flawed analysis government has flogged for all its worth, has publicly criticized government for not allowing the PUB the time and resources to properly vet this proposal. No, the cheerleaders for this abomination are all weasels, people with something to gain or hold onto, people who hide behind fictitious names while they do the dirty work of their masters. When this government is gone, when the Muskrat fiasco blows up in our faces - as surely it will - , the inevitable public inquiry will root out the evidence of just how much public money has been squandered putting lipstick on this pig. Too little, too late, the public condemnation of a government out of control will make its way into the history books alongside the Upper Churchill, the linerboard mill, and the litany of other government deals that put money into the pockets of the shakers and movers while screwing the taxpayer and future generations of Newfoundlanders. As Yogi Berra said "It's déjà vue all over again".

  • Ocean Roach and a Big Glass of MILk
    February 10, 2012 - 13:59

    Time for the spin doctors to Put the spin on the deal! I am against this muskratfalls debacle. I would like nothing more to say that it is a deal and a good one at that, but I can't. Now why is that! It seems to be the only thing on this governments table and they want to ram it thru ASAP. There's too many questions with NO answers. My trust level, with all governments secertive ways as of late, is so very low. Because if the right questions aren't asked, do you really think they will take the time to enlighten us all? It doesn't sit well with or my wallet.

  • How much
    February 10, 2012 - 12:32

    The cost of Muskrat Falls is far from being defined within any reasonable cost estimate at this stage yet the PUB has to tell the Government within a few weeks whether thsi is the least cost option. What a farce this whole process is. The cost of any option can only be determined after the engineering and design is complete to a stage that can provide a reasonable estimate of construction costs. The decision for the PUB should be simply to tell government and Nalcor that the task cannot be completed given that reasonable cost estimates for the comstruction are not complete.

  • W Bagg
    February 10, 2012 - 09:35

    fell behind on the paperwork, wait til they actually try to build it.

  • John Smith
    February 10, 2012 - 09:09

    Oh My God!! It must be a huge conspiracy! Nalcor, and Navigant, and MHI and Danny Williams, and Wade Locke and the Governemnt and Emera are all in on it. All the employees at Nalcor are in on it. They are all out to get us, and make all kinds of money off us. Quick, let's put a stop to this, how can we let these people do this to us. Call in the army, call in Obama, call in Superman. LMAO Give me a