Praise for the PUB

Colin MacLean
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Organization’s former chairman happy with direction on Muskrat Falls

Speaking on the topic “Where do we go from here on electricity planning?” former civil servant and former chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities, David Vardy, addresses the Rotary Club of Northwest St. John’s at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s Tuesday afternoon. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

A former chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) is praising that organization’s report — or the lack thereof — on the Muskrat Falls Project.

Speaking to the Rotary Club of St. John’s Northwest Tuesday afternoon, David Vardy said the PUB took the most reasonable option it could under the circumstances and he expressed his relief at this turn of events.

“My reaction was it was very positive. It was a really good approach in that it enabled us all to go back to first principles and fundamentally reassess where this project is heading. It set us back and it’s got us re-energized to look at other solutions and to find better approaches,” Vardy told The Telegram after the luncheon.

The PUB was commissioned last year to examine whether or not the Muskrat Falls hydro project was the best long-term option to power Newfoundland and Labrador until at least the early 2060s.

The PUB had once asked for an extension to its March 31 deadline, claiming it didn’t have enough time to complete the review, but it was refused. So instead of the report it was supposed to issue last Saturday the PUB released an explanation as to why it could not do so with the information it had.

“I thought the Public Utilities Board did this with a lot of premeditation, that they really thought through what they were doing. And they knew they were going to get a lot of flack,” said Vardy.  

The PUB’s document prompted an angry response from the province and resulted in Premier Kathy Dunderdale announcing Monday Manitoba Hydro would get another shot at reviewing the project, this time with an expanded mandate to include natural gas and wind power in its study. Dunderdale also promised a summer sitting of the House of Assembly to debate the Muskrat Falls Project before a final decision is made in the fall.

Vardy said he is happy to see the direction the conversation has taken and praised Dunderdale for making the decisions she did.

“That’s indicating to me that they are prepared to be flexible. They are prepared to make some changes. That, I think, is very positive,” he said.

Vardy also added that, in his opinion, the PUB should be given another chance to go back and review the project properly, with up-to-date information and an appropriate timeframe  before delivering its new report.

“Absolutely they should (re-commission the PUB). And they shouldn’t be afraid of it. Because if they are confident that Muskrat Falls is the best option, then it will win,” he said.

If that is done, he added, then there could be no question as to which option is the best for Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Once they’ve had the time to do it, and do it right, then we all have to shut up or put up,” he said.

Vardy has been an outspoken critic of the mandate previously given to the PUB for this report. He’s long called for the PUB to be given a full and sweeping mandate to study the project.

Those calls have earned him criticism in the past, including from former Premier Danny Williams.

Meanwhile, the provincial government is lashed out at the PUB. Premier Dunderdale said Tuesday the board “wasted $2 million,” by not completing its report.

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Rotary Club, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • The Tree's
    April 09, 2012 - 10:33

    What was it RUSH said in the their song FREEWILL......Oh ya.. " If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." Nuff said

  • John Smith
    April 05, 2012 - 15:44

    Well...the PUB said they wanted more information...and the only numbers left were the DG3 numbers. So sounds to me they wanted to wait till they received numbers that are not even there yet. They also said they wanted the power usage number for 2011...even though current numbers, from2001-2010 show year over year increases in demand? HUH? Even if the demand did decrease in 2011, which I doubt you can't use one year's data to base your decision on. The PUB failed miserably, and are incompetent at best. Filled with disgruntled ex-hydro employess and Andy wells...what else could we expect.

  • John Smith
    April 04, 2012 - 14:58

    Maurice, the DG3 numbers are not even compiled yet, and will not be untill june or july. That just goes to show how utterly ignorant you are about this project. Go ahead now, make up some ficticious facts to give us all a good laugh...

    • Rebel
      April 05, 2012 - 14:30

      John, nowhere in Mr. Adam's post does he insinuate that these numbers you refer to are available. He was making reference to the fact that the Premier has already dismissed re-submitting these numbers, when they become available, to the PUB. That should be troubling to you, I know it is to me, because it shows they seemingly only want people who agree with them in the first place to give them validation. Maybe she will send them to you to look at as it is very obvious you will not disagree. As Shakespear said "Methinks, thou doest protest too much" History has shown us that even if our leaders have our best interests as their inspiration they can still make mistakes, so there is nothing wrong with asking questions and to not just follow blindly.

    April 04, 2012 - 11:02

    Hi I think the PUB must have good reason to ask for more information. Just because there is a lot of information available does not mean it is all that is required for a decision.

  • Joe
    April 04, 2012 - 07:52

    The PUB organization is there to protect the citizens of this province, public expenditures and the influences by private business. The recent attacks are an attack on the people of this province in my opinion and is unacceptable. I support the PUB report as it brings to light the many questions and lack of professionalism by Nalcor and the Government on the necessary due diligence. Unbelievable - you have both McDonald and Williams advocating for business to step up on the muskrat falls and the people be push second! This is tax payers money. if Williams and mcdonald want a say - put their money where their mouth is. This is a public project funded by taxpayers. they don't get to dictate what our voice should be. I thought Dean mcdonald was a choice if he ran for government but I have reservations about that, as I cannot support the development at this stage. Also, notice how the government have flipflopped on the decisions and issues - like "oh you caught us in our lies and plans" now we need to back peddle. Government is showing they cannot be trusted - getting caught in their lies/deceit.

  • Dannys dream
    April 04, 2012 - 07:38

    Kenndey has to be removed from the RAT FILE. No one in newfoundland has any confidence left in him. He knows how some of his former clients would do what ever it takes to win and get their fix and he is so married to this project that its in the best interest of the province to be removed. We need someone in there that can handle this better, like paul lane, terri french or charlene johnston. Chasing this project doesn't make it write. Maybe the man of a thousand songs could write another one, and not about a bully heater.

    • DD
      April 07, 2012 - 17:57

      Lane, French, Johnston? You gotta be kiddin'! No wonder the PC's won the election with a majority. That majority was composed of dumbells.

    • Jeb
      April 07, 2012 - 20:36

      Paul Lane, Terry French, Charlene Johnston? Surely you're kidding. Nothing but political flunkies.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    April 04, 2012 - 07:08

    I think that says it all ---- if government is convinced that Muskrat Falls is the best option, then why not have the PUB assess the Decision Gate 3 (sanction) numbers? There is only one reason. They know the difference.