Muskrat Falls on the minds of board of trade guests

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Minister says government welcomes upcoming debate

Tom Hedderson

The proposed Lower Churchill hydro development was not the subject of today’s half-day St. John’s Board of Trade conference, but it was on the mind of attendees and presenters.

The conference was focused on Labrador and identifying the opportunities for Newfoundland and Labrador-based businesses in the Arctic in general.

In addressing the topic, guest speakers ended up touching on the questions of whether or not the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project will be going ahead.

“We’ll see what happens later on this year, but we sure need power,” said retired senator Bill Rompkey in his opening address — referencing the highly anticipated debate in the provincial House of Assembly.

In a presentation on iron ore in the Labrador Trough and the plans of New Millennium Iron Corp., vice-president of investor relations and corporate affairs, Ernest Dempsey, said the availability of low-cost energy “is a big issue” for multi-billion dollar developments in the iron-rich Labrador Trough.

“I can’t emphasize enough how much low-cost power has underpinned the competitiveness of Canadian iron ore,” Dempsey said, not directly addressing the proposed hydro project in this province, but making clear the power would be welcomed.

That power, should it come from Muskrat Falls, will be an extremely costly venture up front for the provincial government and the people within the province, as others in the room at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s noted.

“It doesn’t come without risk,” said Francis Clarke, executive director of the Innu Business Development Centre. “But I think the real big question is not about the development, it’s about what I’m going to have to pay for electricity at the end of the day.”

Clarke, a former employee with CFLCo., expressed faith in Nalcor Energy, but also questioned the availability of power on the Labrador coast- where supply is currently failing to keep up with demand.

Minister of Transportation and Works Tom Hedderson arrived at the hotel to address a luncheon event that followed the conference presentations.

Hedderson referred to hydro power as “a revenue-generating resource” for the province and “our great revenue stream.”

“We welcome the debate (on the project), but a (no or go) decision is going to have to be made,” Hedderson said.

Organizations: Board of Trade, House of Assembly.In, New Millennium Iron Holiday Inn

Geographic location: Falls, Labrador, Arctic

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Recent comments

    September 29, 2012 - 07:29

    If NFLD do not build the muskrat falls with a transmission line to the island then on to mainland of Canada, to carry the power from Muskrat Falls and the upper Churchill when the contract now in place with Quebec expires in 2041, Then Quebec will remain getting the profits of the upper Churchill, Without its own transmission line NFLD will have to go to Quebec with its cap in hand asking if it can use its power line grid, With out the transmission line from Churchill & Muskrat Falls, Quebec remains in the driver seat when it comes to Muskrat or Churchill Falls Power, With this transmission line NFLD Will BECOME THE POWER HOUSE OF NORTH AMERICA, Should it be Built? YES! Churchill Falls & MUSKRAT Falls ran for millions of years at no cost, It will run for millions more turning the power generating turbines at no cost,The river ran for millions of years and will for millions more clean and at no cost

  • Maurice E. Adams
    September 27, 2012 - 13:58

    " a 40 year old thermal plant"?? A study by Hatch for Nalcor concluded that because Holyrood is seldom used at capacity (5.5 days a year), and shut down totally for substantial parts of the year (not needed at all), Holyrood is operationally equivalent to about half its chronological age. ......... "stabilize our rates" -- 2% increase every year is not exactly stabilizing rates........ , "we will borrow about 4 billion dollars for this project".... that does not include another 4 billion or so in cost overruns.... Also, if you review Nalcor's own media briefing you will see that cash flow out of the pockets of island ratepayers over 50 years total $35 billion. ..... "at the lowest interest rates in history"???.... they have nowhere to go but UP. ....... See

  • Winston Adams
    September 27, 2012 - 08:53

    Perhaps John and Maurice would do a public debate on the issues? Would either of you agree? This way we 'll find out if John is a person who expresses his own ideas or just a goofie newfie, with Tory talking points. Such a debate could be entertaining and informative, mabye more so than the House debate. Get your facts ready guys.

  • John Smith
    September 27, 2012 - 08:16

    Yes...that's right maurice...we don't need any power here. Quebec, and Ontario, and BC, and just about every other province in Canada needs more power, but not us goofy newfies...nope.Goofy newfies think it's better to keep buying middle east bunker C, and burning it in a 40 year old thermal plant, yes that makes far more sense than developing a hydro resource that will stabalize our rates for the next 50 years.Maurice we will borrow about 4 billion dollars for this project, at the lowest interest rates in history....not 35 billion. In comparison we spen about 3.5 billion a year every year on healthcare...every year.Sure, let's let Quebec and Ontario develop their resources, we will patch up our 40 year old oil burner in Holyrood, and send the industry and jobs elsewhere...spoken like a true Liberal Maurice...a true blue Danny Dumaresque Liberal...

  • Maurice E. Adams
    September 26, 2012 - 15:13

    So ratepayers on the island should pay revenues of $35 billion over 50 years ($700 million a year) to Nalcor so that Danny's mining giants of Labrador will get their power at about 1/10th what it will cost island ratepayers to build and transmit it to them? Holyrood cost island ratepayers $92 million a year for oil while Muskrat will cost $700 million a year. Great project (windfall) for mining corporations --- paid for by whom?????.... We would have to be nuts to do that ---- when these multi-billion dollar corporations can get all the power they need over the fence from Hydro Quebec. WE DO NOT NEED THE POWER .... See