Maritimes municipal leaders muse on Muskrat Falls

Dave Bartlett
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Summerside, P.E.I.’s Deputy Mayor Brad MacDougall (left) chats with Cape Breton Regional Municipality Coun. Ray Paruch and Mayor Brad Woodside of Fredericton, N.B., at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention last weekend in Halifax. The municipal leaders agree the proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project will be good for the Atlantic region. — Photo by Dave Bartlett/The Telegram

The proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development is getting rave reviews from municipal leaders in the Atlantic region.

When the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) met in Halifax earlier this month, The Telegram met up with some Maritime delegates to get their views on the proposed megaproject.

Ray Paruch — a councillor for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) and the chairman of FCM’s Atlantic caucus — joined Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall of Summerside, who is also president of Municipalities Prince Edward Island, and Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside, elected third vice-president of FCM at the convention, to give their thoughts on how the first phase of the Lower Churchill may affect their communities.

“I think there’s abundant, big-time opportunities here in the field of economic development, especially for the CBRM,” said Paruch.

“I also think it serves to stabilize power rates for our part of the world and ... the third ingredient to this is an abundant supply of power for the future needs of the people in the Cape Breton area.”

Paruch said the project has been discussed at the council table.

“The big thing is stability,” agreed MacDougall. “P.E.I. is not blessed with a lot of natural resources (which generate) power. Ours is all, basically, imported.”

MacDougall said his city owns its own power utility. He said wind power takes care of 35 per cent of the island’s electricity needs, but said Muskrat Falls will put more power “in the bucket we (are able) to draw from.”

“Anytime there is another source of power, it adds stability to the market,” he repeated.

Woodside hopes projects like Muskrat Falls will mean less reliance on foreign oil.

“Anything that ... affects all of Atlantic Canada and makes us economically stronger is a good thing,” he said.

Clean and sustainable energy, said Woodside is “the best that you could possibly have.”

But the other reason the trio cited for supporting Muskrat Falls is the idea it’s a regional project as Nova Scotia’s Emera Energy is a partner and Ottawa has promised a loan guarantee.

“We may be a big country geographically, but we don’t have a lot of people, so we’ve got to work smart and invest smart,” said Woodside. “With the federal contribution here, which I support 100 per cent, that ensures this is going to be an Atlantic Canadian co-operative program that’s going to benefit all of us.”

He hopes it will be the first of many such regional developments.

“I think the Atlantic provinces should be getting together more often and utilizing the skills and the resources they have to make (things) better for all Atlantic Canadians,” said Woodside.

Paruch believes it is the start of more co-operation in the Atlantic region and said that’s already happening — both regionally and across Canada — through groups like FCM.

“At the municipal level, we’re used to co-operating. We’re used to getting along,” he said.

Woodside added if the provinces learned to work together as well as municipalities have, the whole country would be better off.

When quizzed about some of the opposition to the project coming from inside Newfoundland and Labrador, Paruch dismissed it.

“There’s going to be opposition to everything,” he said. “We’re no strangers to opposition, but we are strangers to opportunities of this magnitude.”

 

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Cape Breton Regional Municipality

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls, Atlantic Canada, Halifax Fredericton Cape Breton Nova Scotia Ottawa Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Maurice E. Adams
    June 13, 2011 - 18:29

    GERRYP ---- it is my understanding that the Maritimes will get their power from this project for around 8 or 9 cents/Kwh, while the rate in Newfoundland will be around 15 cents/Kwh (and that may be, I am not sure, the rate from Nalcor to Newfoundland Power, who then tacks on about 50% to that, so that rate payers in Newfoundland may pay more like 20+ cents/Kwh ---- double or more what we pay now (9.5 cents/KWH) ---- hence, if Newfoundland Power had revenues from rates in Newfoundland last year of $537 million, just 200,000 households in Newfoundland will then have to pony up another $537 million per year ---- while Maritimers get cheap rates at out expense.

  • John Smith
    June 13, 2011 - 14:39

    Well, the Liberal minority are vocal. I have to laugh when I hear Emera is getting free or subsidized electricity. Since when is two billion dollars free? Anyway, the bottom line is this deal has nothing to do with NS or Emera. This has everything to do with suppliying the island with the lowest cost electricity. If Emera wants to build a cable, and buy the rest of the power for even 1 cent a KWH then it will be of benefit to us. The red herring that the liberals keep troting out is the bit about selling excess power to Emera, the least important part of the deal. Don't forget guys, your power bills will continue to climb forever if we saty tied to Holyrood, which by the way has at times provided 80 eight zero percent of power on the avalon..hear that Maurice the Liberal from Paradice...80 % fact. Just wait till the other projects come on line, the smoke will be pouring from Holyrood then. Makes me sick to my stomach to read lies like this being put out there, unbelievable.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    June 13, 2011 - 12:59

    "At what cost to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador"? Newfoundland Power had Revenues from rate sales" last year of $537 million. So if our rates double, that will mean the cost to NLers will be an additional $537 million. Oil costs for Holyrood hasn't cost that much for a last 5 years, not alone 1 year--- and there are other island options available (besides Muskrat Falls) that can meet our needs for what may be only 1/3rd Holyrood, and 1/2 Muskrat Falls, costs.

  • Randy
    June 13, 2011 - 11:46

    Make know wonder they're all happy about this in ns,pei and nb..They will be paying much less for electricitiy then we will be in nl.,while we have to pay for it through doubleing of light bill and doubleing our provincial debt.This project if allowed to procede could bankrupt the province of nl.Who'll care then ,? not this guy paruch

  • Lloyd
    June 13, 2011 - 11:28

    "Maritimes municipal leaders muse on Muskrat Falls" Well, gee whiz, Labrador Municipal Leaders once made their feelings felt as well via a paper published by the Combined Councils of Labrador. All their demands and/or expectations have been flatly denied by the Provincial Government in Nfld. Nope, Newfoundlanders, Nova Scotians, PEI ers, who knows who else will be able to have some of this power - all subsidized by Nfld (and Labrador) taxpayers and Nfld rate payers. Apparently it's too expensive to supply power to Labradorians!

  • Keith
    June 13, 2011 - 09:40

    As always anytime there is public funds being dispersed and business can get their hands on it, it really doesn't matter the outcome for the people who supply the power. At what cost to the people of Newfoundland Labrador, so the people of the other Atlantic provinces can have cheap power.

  • Steve in NL
    June 13, 2011 - 09:33

    Of course they support it. Newfound taxpayers are basically subsidizing the power to NS. Emera gets an equity interest, free power for 35 years. NL also has an equity interest, yet we will pay darely for that power. If I were in NS, I'd be rooting for this too. This deal needs to be renegotiated so that it provides true benefits to NL taxpayers, and not just the politicians.

  • Brad
    June 13, 2011 - 09:08

    Ofcourse they're happy it is stabilizing their electricity rates while Newfoundland's goes through the roof. We are essentially going to be paying for Eastern Canada's cheaper electricity rates. Thank you Stunderdale, we are all so grateful to donate our hard earned money to other provinces, just to put one over on Quebec.

    • W McLean
      June 13, 2011 - 14:05

      Guess it won't be long now before Danny is thanking you for blaming Dunderdale for his "deal".

  • John Smith
    June 13, 2011 - 08:36

    This is truly a great project. This is a viable project. The only opposition I have heard is from the Liberal opposition. They are trying to generate seats by bad mouthing the project, however it is backfireing on them already.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    June 13, 2011 - 08:06

    No doubt Muskrat Falls is an 'opportunity of great magnitude" for the Maritimes ---- AT OUR EXPENSE. -----PERIOD. Newfoundland Power received $537 million from Newfoundland in "Revenue from rate sales" last year. Now double that, and households in NL will pay another $537 million each year (shared between Nalco and NL Power) ---- so that the Maritimes can get significantly improved economic advantages through significantly LOWER rates. All while we will move our debt up by BILLIONS more, pay debt service charges in hundreds of millions (or even billions) more for 30 odd years to come. WAKE UP !!!!!! THIS IS A MILLSTONE AROUND OUR NECKS --- AND OUR CHILDRENS NECKS. It is uneconomic, much too expensive, ---- there are other island options that are affordable and least cost. Maurice E. Adams, Paradise

  • mb
    June 13, 2011 - 07:37

    I guess it's fine for all these citizens after Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have been beggared to build it!

  • R Power
    June 13, 2011 - 07:32

    I guess they are 'stangers to opportunities of this magnitude'. It's not everyday that you're given the chance to purchase a commodity below what it costs to produce - and at the expense of Nl's ratepayer at that. Throw in billions in spending funded by another province's taxpayers and it must seem like they've won the lottery! These guys must feel like they won the lottery!

    • GerryP
      June 13, 2011 - 16:00

      Are the comments made here depicting reality or are they simply misleading untruths of the governing party's political opponents? I ask only because I find it difficult to believe what I am reading. Will, indeed, the people of NL be paying more for the same power their province will be transmitting to other Provinces for use by the residents of those provinces at a lesser price? This can't be true !!!!! Why would anyone condone such an arrangement? This has some likeness to the deal with Quebec some forty plus years ago. Ah ..... there must be something here that I am missing. From my vantage point in Western Canada, am I misunderstanding this situation?