NDP Leader Lorraine Michael speaks to reporters outside the PUB hearing room in St. John’s. Michael showed up to the public review of Muskrat Falls, but only to personally deliver a letter explaining why she wouldn’t make a presentation to the board. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Lorraine Michael stood on the threshold of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) hearing room Tuesday, but she refused to go inside.
Michael arrived to personally deliver a letter to the PUB explaining why she won’t participate in the public review of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
“We want answers to the many questions around the role that conservation, feed-in tariffs and demand-side management could have on future power consumption,” Michaels wrote.
“It is unfortunate that the Commission will not have time, and has not been given the mandate, to fully investigate these issues.”
Speaking to the media Michael wouldn’t say that the whole process is a waste of time, but did say it would have been a waste of time for her to weigh in.
“I think it would have been a waste of time for me to sit in front of the commission because I wouldn’t have been able to speak to the points I want to speak to — they would tell me it’s not part of their mandate,” she said. “It makes it a bit of a farce.”
The PUB has been charged with determining whether the Muskrat Falls is a cheaper source of electricity than an isolated island alternative where energy is generated burning fossil fuels at Holyrood.
The board has said that to properly answer that question, they need until at least the end of June, but the government has refused to give them an extension, saying that their final report must be delivered no later than the end of March.
But a host of critics say the process is entirely too narrow, and that the PUB should be taking all the time it needs and looking at all options for generation.
Through the past 15 months of furious debate on the Muskrat Falls project, the NDP has remained largely agnostic.
In her letter to the PUB Tuesday, Michael said she’s in favour of the project — but only “so long as it is economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and good for the people of the province.”
As it stands, Michael said, she’s still unconvinced and wants more information from the government.
“Our biggest problem is that there has not been a full analysis done of the alternatives, and Nalcor made a choice for two options, they tell us they believe the other alternatives aren’t as good, but they’ve never presented the proof for that,” she said. “Nobody has presented a detailed analysis of wind power, for example, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Michael said that there’s a good chance her party won’t develop a firm stance for or against the project before the government formally decides to sanction it.
“We will have clear decisions once government finishes its process,” she said. “If the government moves ahead with this and moves ahead with Muskrat Falls and then puts enabling legislation in the House — which they will have to do in order to make the project move ahead — then we will be at the point where we will be able to say yes or no.”
Michael’s letter to the PUB will be part of the public record, and will be included in the written submissions when the board publishes its final report.
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