Lawyers form company to promote Muskrat Falls alternatives

Andrew Robinson
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A group of lawyers held a news conference today in St. John's to talk about their reasons for forming a group to promote alternatives to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development.

2041 Energy Inc. is the brainchild of Richard Cashin, Bernard Coffey, Edward Hearn, Cabot Martin and Dennis Browne. They met with reporters today at the Super 8 Motel on Higgins Line.

Edward Hearn, who served on the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro board for 10 years with the Brian Peckford and Clyde Wells governments, will serve as the group's president.

The group intends to focus on how the province's energy portfolio should be handled between now and 2041 — the year the Upper Churchill Contract expires.

In that year, Newfoundland and Labrador is set to receive extra revenue from that hydroelectric development resource.

The group contends that Muskrat Falls is not the solution to provincial energy needs. It is looking for the PUB to study alternatives to hydroelectric development at Muskrat Falls.

For more on this story, read Friday's print edition of The Telegram.



Organizations: Energy Inc., Super 8 Motel, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro board

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Winston Adams
    August 17, 2012 - 14:58

    There is about 600 Mw of waste electricity,, much of which is relatively cheap to recover with current efficient heating. Lets say we recover half of that. Fred Penner say it is ecomomic to get another 172Mw from on island hydro. Together that is 472 MW . We plan to get 300 MW for the island from MF at 3 or 4 times the cost, at huge risk that there will be little island demand. Of course, if you want a vision or a nightmare or a big ribbon cutting event, MF will be the preferred.

  • gb
    August 17, 2012 - 12:09

    The way I see it..the price of oil is not getting any cheaper.....the cost of constructing something is not getting any cheaper..isn't this a win/win situation? As far as lawyers publicly getting inilvolved well the way I see it over the years there were lots and lots of public safety or public policy issues that they all could have chimed in on but nooooo....deadly silence from our local lawyers...nadda. nothing.. and now all of a sudden they are concerned about how Muskrat Falls is going to impact us all?

  • Virginia Waters
    August 17, 2012 - 10:27

    Why not enlighten us Mr. Penner? Tell us how it is exactly that these five lawyers - some of whom I believe are retired - plan to fill their pocket-books by opposing this Muskrat debacle. And while you're at it, you might explain how the numerous other professionals opposed to the project, including engineers, economists and environmentalists, are planning to cash in. It would seem there's a lot more money to be made by piling onto the Muskrat gravy train than by throwing yourself in front of it. My guess is that you are just another paid cheerleader for this boondoggle - perhaps summer relief for government's pit-bull terrier John Smith. actually the conductor for that gravy train.

  • Sue Kelland-Dyer
    August 17, 2012 - 08:09

    Rudderless at our most Critical Hour Tories, Libs, NDP left the room. Muskrat disaster. This group proves a very negative reality.

  • leaf fan
    August 17, 2012 - 07:53

    Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro commissioned a study in 1986 to conduct an inventory of the potential small hydro resources and found a total of 850 MW in small hydro schemes available on the island that could be connected to the existing power grid. Of this, 172 MW supplied by 22 plants had very good cost/benefit ratios -- i.e. they would likely economical. The report was written by SHAWMONT NEWFOUNDLAND LIMITED, the same engineering firm that built the Bay d'Espoir hydroelectric power station. Rather than assume the risk of a six billion dollar mega project like Muskrat Falls in Labrador and add to this the expensive of power connections from Labrador to Newfoundland and from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, it would far less risky to develop small hydro on the island, as needed. It is also possible that it will never be needed, but if the population decline ceases, generation stations could be added as electrical demand grew. The report is huge and contains a great deal of topographic maps, but the introduction and conclusions are pasted below, and there is a pdf attached here which contains the executive summary, conclusions and a list of the sites. A full copy is housed in the Memorial University Queen Elizabeth II library. Here is the site with the full study and executive sumary... add that a setup for a number 8 turbine at the Bay d' espoir generating plant could be used to generate more power their..right now there is approximalely 350000 dollars worth of electricity per day flowing from free water unharnessed three flowing out into the spillway. I have got nothing against Muskrat Falls but lets get all the facts on the table on what is available on the island before spending billions.

    • Winston Adams
      August 17, 2012 - 10:54

      To LEAF FAN, Yes , we certainly need to get the facts looked at. More knowledgeable people should speak up . There is too much silence from the many engineers, and others in this province who have relevant facts

    • Fred Penner
      August 17, 2012 - 11:14

      Interesting comments. I have two comments per your post. First, only 172 MW is economical of all of the available plants, that means that the remainder 678 MW is not economical to develop. Secondly, I suspect that you mean tailrace and not spillway in your comments regarding the plant at Bay d'espoir and the potential of another unit (number 8). The only water that enters the tailrace has been used to rotate the turbines on the generators - that is, there is no wasted water in the tailrace. It may be possible to install another generator at Bay d'espoir but it will share water from the same reaservoir as the existing units. Simply adding another genrator does not mean that more energy is available in the reservoir. You could install another 50 generators at Bay d'espoir but you not get increased energy from the plant as you still have the same amount of water as you had originally.

    • Eli
      August 17, 2012 - 12:16

      With those 1500 pages of agreements signed & sealed my fear is we're too far along to scrub the deal. Am I right Jerome Kennedy? My thoughts to Winston Adams wondering why more knowledgeable people are not taking a stand it's simple. Too many people and firms have government contractrs that will go up the tube if they dare open their mouths. Right Premier Dunderdale?

  • Fred Penner
    August 17, 2012 - 06:39

    Lawyers are like rhinoceroses: thick-skinned, short-sighted, and always ready to charge. - David Mellor In this case, we have 5 short sighted beasts.....all with pocket-book in hand.

  • Maggy Carter
    August 17, 2012 - 00:47

    This is a group of highly respected lawyers who have held senior posts in the public and private sectors in this province. Like the rest of us, they have watched this Muskrat development move forward without the checks and balances essential for a project of this magnitude and long-term fiscal implications. In short, they see the province's recent, hard won economic independence being unnecessarily put at risk. Not surprisingly, the government shills have immediately denounced them - questioning their motives and integrity. They are variously accused of having an unspecified political agenda or some obscure financial interest in seeing the project stopped. Indeed this has been the government tactic all along. Rather than address the issues raised, they have instead attacked the character of the people raising them. Expect to see more of this reprehensible behaviour as government gets closer and closer to project sanction. It is, of course, a decision made a long time ago - a decision it has no intention of changing no matter the final cost estimates or the arguments mounted against it in the upcoming legislative debate. This group of concerned citizens, who just happen to be lawyers, are old enough to remember some of the great mistakes that were made by governments in the past - most notably the Upper Churchill contract. They know they will be vilified by sock puppets for NALCOR and the Dunderdale government. They know it is unlikely they will change government's mind. But they console themselves with the knowledge that years from now when our children begin to question how such a catastrophic error in judgement could so casually have jeopardized this province's economic future, it will be said that there were at least a few brave, intelligent, responsible souls who were prepared to go on record as saying this project was sheer economic madness.

    • Yessir
      August 17, 2012 - 10:05

      You knows. Everyone for this project must be a government hack but all of us against it are highly respectable.

  • Giddy Up
    August 16, 2012 - 21:09

    When a gaggle of lawyers gets together it's usually to find a way to make money.

  • cpike
    August 16, 2012 - 17:44

    What, you mean Quebec is not going to hand over billions of dollars in equipment when they happily give up their rights to Churchill Falls !!!!! I suspect they will hold up the handover for years with leagal challenges. And of course by then oil prices will be skyhigh as the non renewable resource starts to run low and our enviroment will still be poluted by Hollyrood.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    August 16, 2012 - 16:10

    FRED, obviously, when I said that it was a "2005" study that concluded that the cost of the fixed link was $1.7 billion --- it therefore HAD TO BE in 2005 or 2004$.....(so no intent to mislead there)..... and when I said $2.1 billion for the underwater transmission link "alone", the "alone" should have been in reference to the total transmission (land and underwater) line, the 'alone' was meant to exclude the dam/generation plant......... But the cost difference numbers that were identified/intended remain valid..... I do apologize for some less than clear language., and thank you for clarifying my unintended mis-statement. But the gist of my intended message remains valid.

  • Skeptical of the skeptics
    August 16, 2012 - 15:27

    To all the conspiracy theorists making comments, what exactly do you think the hidden agenda is in this project? Yes governments are capable of making large mistakes but the comments here seem to indicate that the nay sayers believe Muskrat Falls is a willful deception engineered to spend money unnecessarily. I don't believe that and I'd like to be clear on why the dissenters are vocal. As for this 2041 group before they've even convened they already 'know' there are better solutions, makes me question their motives. I'd like to see their investment portfolios before I take anything they say seriously.

    • build the gd thing already
      August 16, 2012 - 16:20


    • terrilynn
      August 16, 2012 - 16:41

      I am not sure what to beleive at this point. I do beleive that the province is trying to work in the best interest of the people. Whether or not they are adequatly informed??? I'm not sure. Right now I am wondering what interest these lawyers have? Besides these lawyers are other groups providing funding to the efforts of 2041 inc? What past activities have these lawyers been involved in? Does anyone have any info?

    • Bob
      August 17, 2012 - 06:15

      Logic(?) like this makes me want to throw up. I'm on a fixed income but I'd travel the world if someone else was picking up the tab. And of course legislation to ensure no examination of the books. Thanks again Danny.

  • joe ollerhead
    August 16, 2012 - 15:05

    Is there anyone in the supporters of this project that would go to a car salesperson on Friday,agree to buy a car,sign the papers and go back on Monday to pick up the car,not knowing what the cost was going to be? Isn't that what our government wants us to do?

  • redrantingtory
    August 16, 2012 - 13:54

    Quebec is laughing all the way to the bank with all the opposition here. They are wringing their hands at the possibility that there will be enough opposition to this project to cancel it. Why is that third world countries like Argentina can develope their hydro eletricty project and make it work but we cannot . Nothing will ever happen here because of big ego's and political agendas and fear. If this project doesn't go ahead it will be recognized as one of the biggest failures on the part of Newfoundland and Labrador. It will rank up there the Upper Churchill deal with Quebec. How else are we to develope big industry without the power? How are we to wheel power elsewere without Quebec eating up the lions share? We tried to deal with Quebec for all out history and it as failed miserably. Now we have a chance to bipass them and all of a sudden the political agendas are trying to ruin it. These are some of the very same people who said Hibernia was going to be a miserable failure. I say shame on anyone who is opposing for the sake of thier own agenda or their political agenda of which there are many I suspect. No nothing will ever be accomplished here for fear that someone else might recieve a bit of recoginition or that your party would not recieve some of the limelight and praise. Dare not try to develope and create and atmosphere for jobs and industry for fear we will be something. It's time to slag off that old feeling that we cannot do or we are somehow inferior. I wonder where do all these politiocans and hacks think the jobs and money will come from to support future generations or to stop the out migrations they are always crying about? No don't try to do anything as there is always a group there waiting to pull you back down. Create enough doubt with half truths and lies and maybe you can win you election but I gaurantee you this will be another great failure to develope. These very same people are asking how we will pay the bills when oil runs out? I guess they are hoping Quebec will chip in. If this were Quebec this project would have been done no questions ask. We are our own worst enemy. Instead of pulling together and building we are dividing for the conquer and a few political points by some people.

  • Shane
    August 16, 2012 - 13:10

    What a complete list of jokes. Another attempt by Bern and Dennis to try to bring government and Nalcor down. They will be laughed off the stage again like at the liberal campaign.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    August 16, 2012 - 13:07

    NL government's 2005 Fixed-link Pre-feasibility Study concluded that a fixed link from Labrador to the island to carry both people and power could be built for $1.7 billion........ Nalcor's estimate for its Muskrat Falls' Labrador-island under water link is $2.1 billion alone......... Subtract $0.4 billion that the Fixed link pre-feasibility study says can be saved by using the tunnel for a power cable, and the TOTAL cost for a fixed link (people and power) capable of carrying Upper Churchill power is $3.4 billion......... That approach requires NO MUSKRAT FALLS DAM/ GENERATION PLANT, allows MUCH CHEAPER (and more) energy transmission from the Upper Churchill, provides REAL REVENUES from low cost existing renewable assets, reduces the provinces/Nalcor's debt payments and operating costs and frees up about $4 billion dollars for further Labrador/island investment...........Even today Yvonne Jones is saying that Labrador NEEDS a railway to move iron ore from the mining companies to Goose Bay (cost $2.4 billion). ........ TOTAL --- fixed link to carry people (and power from Upper Churchill) and a railway from the mines to Goose Bay would cost $5.8 billion (about $3 billion LESS THAN the proposed, unneeded, high cost, high risk Muskrat Falls project alone). ....... TOUGH CHOICE.

    • Fred Penner
      August 16, 2012 - 14:24

      You should be ashamed of yourself! The cost estimate for the St of Belle Isle link to carry people etc was $1.7 Billion (in $2004) and the current cost estimate for the underwater cable is $337 Million not $2.1 Billion. The $2.1 Billion is for the entire transmission line - including the underwater cable and all other equipment.

  • Musk-Rat falls
    August 16, 2012 - 12:58

    Incorporate? - "limited liability" - key word there. Worst case, maybe they can get some extra work - in 2021 -collecting $$$ for a utility from those fellow seniors that cannot pay for Elect. heat.

  • Cold Future
    August 16, 2012 - 12:46

    Muskrat needs fine tooth comb scrutiny and the present government and Nalcor,promoting it like vaccum cleaner salespersons, are not objective enough to do it. The opposition in government are weak and will be rolled over in a house debate and vote. The project needs the scrutiny of the PUB and a referendum by the people who appear to be "sitting duck captive subsidizeers in waiting" of this deal to develop power solely for mainland interests who will not pay the true cost to develop the power they intend to greedily consume. General statements like; look at the big picture, its for the future, its for the grandchildren, other power siources will go up also, we have to get rid of that dirty dirty oil burner at Holyrood, it must be unmonetized to protect our competitive edge and don and on.... Senior citizens cannot afford a doubling of their electricity costs in a short term. The electricity rates must be kept within the normal escalation rates for power in Canada or the project is not acceptable for development. It is time for government to come out of hibernation and pony up the answers. NO MORE GIVEAWAYS. If we do not need the power and it appears we do not- shelf the project and let the grandchildren do it.

  • Roy
    August 16, 2012 - 12:33

    What is this delusion about Churchill Falls coming back to us. It never will. Quebec has a stranglehold on it for now and forever. Quebec will come us, long before 2041, with a take it or leave it offer for a new agreement on Churchill Falls. They're already moving on plans to replace Churchill Falls. Good luck getting that power to market without Quebec's permission.

  • Concerned
    August 16, 2012 - 12:29

    Thank God for the academia community. There is hope this province will stay alive.

  • Political Watcher
    August 16, 2012 - 12:17

    Wh haven't we heard a peep from Fortis? They are a very successful, Newfoundland basd electrical utility that seems to be building dams and hydro projects around the world yet their silence is deafening regarding a multi-billion dollar hydro development in their own backyard.

  • Mount Pearl Guy
    August 16, 2012 - 12:16

    List of projects opposed by NL'ers: Hibernia Out Ring Road Pitts Memorial Memorial Stadium Dominon Mount Cashel Sobey's Mile One Fortis Building Redevelopment I'd be surprised if there wasn't oppostion to the TCH back in the day.

    • Bayman
      August 16, 2012 - 17:42

      The biggest opposition ever in this province was to the proposal to name Da Pearl a city! The worst ever Newfie joke.

  • Frank
    August 16, 2012 - 12:05

    If the lawyers are against it, it must be a good deal!

  • Robb
    August 16, 2012 - 12:05

    Hey we go with the doomsday people again......I mean, how do you people make it through the day without some disaster...????.....Who really gives a crap what this bunch says or does....???.....they must need some face time. This is a wonderful green project that has been delayed far too long already.....get the shovels in the ground so you can shut the misguided critics up forever. This absolutly reminds me of when they wanted to build what is now called Pitts Memorial Drive in St. John' was amazing how many people were so against the project saying "oh, a superhighway will spill too many cars into downtown".....I mean, what a bunch of crap from a bunch that just want something to complain about. With 2041 Energy, if you don't have anything constructive to add, we don't need to hear from you in the public arena.

  • Fred Penner
    August 16, 2012 - 11:25

    You are aware of course that even in 2041, a transmission line will be required to transmit Upper Churchill energy to the island?

  • Scott Free
    August 16, 2012 - 10:50

    Congrats to 2041 Energy Inc. on your efforts and collective concerns over this debacle.MusKrat must fall to prevent NL from total bankrupcy as a province and as a people. Little Man Dan's legacy project has to be stopped! May Premier Dunderdale and the Con Party, and its pitch-man John Smith, take heed!

    • Just My Opinion
      August 16, 2012 - 11:32

      Its about time some of the experienced people put their heads together and tackled this blunder Dunderdale is making with Muskrat Falls

    • FYET
      August 16, 2012 - 11:41

      I'm very happy to see that there are individuals willing to take a stand against this and speak to the fact that despite what the current administration tells us, there ARE alternatives. People will slowly start to open their eyes and see Muskrat Falls for what it really will be - the bankrupting of our province while the pockets of a select few are lined!

  • Former Liberal and NDP Hacks
    August 16, 2012 - 10:46

    What the Public wants are the true facts about how much our light bills will go up. Jerome Kennedy says our bills would go up without Muskrat and that might be true. But how much will they go up TO PAY FOR Muskrat? No one will answer that. having this group of former Liberals and NDPers just politicises things more which is not helpful. The Public needs information and then a Referendum should be held so the public whether endorses the project or condemns it. Any other path is dishonest.