Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley announced on Wednesday that despite weeks of delays, he’s finally announcing the terms of reference for a sweeping, independent review of the province’s power system — or at least, he’ll make an announcement next week.
Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley speaks to reporters Wednesday afternoon. After weeks of delays, he issued a news release to say that the government’s promised independent review of the province’s electrical system will be announced next week. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Dalley issued a news release to announce that an announcement was coming, and told reporters that the government is still putting the final touches on the comprehensive review of the province’s energy system.
“Terms of reference are practically done. They’ll be out in a few days,” he said.
That was the latest in a series of delays going all the way back to January, when in the wake of crippling blackouts, then-premier Kathy Dunderdale declared, “I want answers.”
At the time, Dunderdale said — with Dalley standing beside her — that the government would draw up terms of reference for a total review of the province’s electrical system within six weeks.
She said a comprehensive review was necessary to restore public confidence in the system.
“This is going to assure people of the province that the regulatory framework that we have in place makes sure that we have a robust system that has integrity and can meet the energy needs of the people of the province,” Dunderdale said at the time. “This is not a question of Muskrat Falls. This is a question about energy generation and transmission in this province and the questions that have arisen because of incidents that took place in the last week.”
Six weeks went by from that announcement with no followup from the government. Initially, officials said that it was because they didn’t want to overlap work with the separate review the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) was doing.
Since the PUB review came out in mid-February, itsaid, it was impossible to meet the six-week deadline.
On Wednesday, exactly six weeks after the PUB released the terms of reference for its independent review, Dalley announced the government will move ahead with its own work — next week.
Let the PUB do its work. Let’s not (be) duplicating what’s happening. Save this amount of money. Liberal Leader Dwight Ball
He said a request for proposals is coming, and then it will pick an independent consultant to do the work. He wouldn’t say that there will be public hearings as part of the review, and instead seemed to be focused on the nitty gritty legal stuff.
Unlike Dunderdale, who said the undertaking wasn’t about the Muskrat Falls project, Dalley said that the review would be about how the electricity system needs to change in advance of the Muskrat Falls project coming online.
“In 2007 we recognized that there was a piece of work that had to be done around our electrical system as we moved from an isolated system to an integrated system,” he said. “We said we would do that piece of work, and certainly in January with so many questions and concerns I think it highlighted, for all of us, certainly all of us in the province, the need to have a look at our system.”
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball raised all of this in question period Wednesday, saying that it looks like much ado about nothing.
“We’ve been asking this government to just get out of the way, let it be truly independent,” Ball said. “Let the PUB do its work; let’s not (be) duplicating what’s happening. Save this amount of money.”
Ball said the announcement in January now looks like a kneejerk reaction from a foundering premier, and it would be just as well if it was abandoned altogether.