Quebec central to latest N.L. discussion papers

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Upper Churchill deal, legal disputes, access to energy markets all tackled in context of Lower Churchill

A recent photo of Muskrat Falls. — Telegram file photo

The government continued its roll-out of information relevant for consideration of the Lower Churchill project Friday, releasing three more discussion papers written by the Department of Natural Resources.

The papers deal with: why Gull Island is not being developed before Muskrat Falls; the province’s legal battles over power transmission in Quebec; and the Upper Churchill deal — why the province is not waiting on 2041, expecting more power from that development.

In an afternoon news conference at the House of Assembly, Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy spoke briefly on each topic and took questions from reporters.

The Upper Churchill power contract remains “a sore point” for people in Newfoundland and Labrador, Kennedy said, noting the divide of Quebec’s having received $90 billion from the project as of 2007, while Newfoundland and Labrador received only $1 billion.

“In 2010, Quebec paid $2.50 a megawatt hour for power from the Upper Churchill and sold the same for $82 a megawatt hour — more than 30 times what they paid for it,” he said.

As for waiting until the Upper Churchill contract expires, people in this province shouldn’t expect a flood of free power in 2041, the minister said.

“I know at one point I laboured under the illusion that as we waited for 2041 we would get free power, we would have unlimited power, but when you look at the corporate structure of CFLCo it’s not that simple,” he said.

“It’s not going to be Hydro-Quebec simply agreeing that all power will be given to Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corp. (CFLCo) will still exist — its ownership split between Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (with 66 per cent stake) and Hydro Québec (34 per cent). Whatever happens with Churchill Falls, the interest of Hydro Québec simply can’t be ignored.

“There is no doubt that Newfoundland and Labrador will benefit in 2041, but it’s very difficult to envision what exactly will take place.”

As for waiting for 2041 power, it means there will be costs associated with maintaining the Holyrood thermal power plant, as well as costs with adding new generation to meet demand in the meantime.


In the courts

Meanwhile, a description of the province’s legal actions on the Upper Churchill and attempts to access Quebec’s transmission grid, was offered in “Legal options: S92A, Good Faith and Regulatory Proceedings in Quebec.”

In summary, the Upper Churchill contract has been challenged multiple times, but with no success to date.

The latest challenge is ongoing. Hydro-Quebec filed a statement of defence to the action in May 2011, pre-litigation is continuing and a trial is expected in Quebec in fall 2013.

“Appeals can be expected, regardless of the result, including possibly an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” the paper states.

Attempts to secure transmission of more power through Quebec have been similarly rebuffed.


Gull Island

The site at Gull Island sits at a

point between Churchill Falls and Muskrat Falls. A dam at Gull Island would offer much more power than one at Muskrat Falls — with 2,250 megawatts and 824 megawatts, respectively.

“But what has been clear for all governments who examine this option is we need access across Quebec and without transmission access, Gull Island is not currently, unfortunately, a feasible option,” Kennedy said.

There needs to be a place to send all of the power from Gull Island and, without access to outside markets, the power needs within the province are simply not enough.

The transmission lines proposed as part of the Muskrat Falls development, to the island and then to Nova Scotia, would not have enough capacity to handle all of the power from Gull Island, and the province is continuing to seek a deal that would see power flowing through Quebec’s grid to Ontario or elsewhere, Kennedy said.


Liberals unimpressed

“The (public relations) tour continues on, rolling on strong and again three more reports coming up. I guess it’s been almost a dozen now since Halloween,” said Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons.

“This is a charade as far as

I’m concerned,” he said. “They’re rolling this out — this has been the third or fourth press conference this week. A number of papers this week, 10 days before a debate was supposed to have happened and we’re getting this information now. If they really wanted people to see this and digest it, they’re going to give it to you in advance. And again it goes back to we’re taking this on the government’s word.”

The NDP hosted a town hall event on the Muskrat Falls development on Thursday night at St. Teresa’s Parish Hall in St. John’s. However, no NDP MHAs took in the next day’s news conference.

A party staffer at the briefing said all were busy and would be unavailable for comment on the latest documentation and arguments put out by the government. The Telegram offered to accept a written statement, but no statement was received as of press time.

Meanwhile, at least one more discussion paper is yet to come from the government. Kennedy said the paper, on the environmental benefits associated with closing the Holyrood power plant, can be expected next week.

Organizations: Department of Natural Resources.The, Hydro-Quebec, Hydro Québec Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Supreme Court of Canada NDP

Geographic location: Quebec, Gull Island, Newfoundland and Labrador Holyrood Nova Scotia Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Tim Jamison
    November 11, 2012 - 12:04

    That's not surprising seeing as how they've been ripping us off since False Messiah Smallwood signed on the dotted line

  • W Bagg
    November 11, 2012 - 10:12

    independant studies Mr Smith, ...................every pamphlet has Dept of Natural Resources on it...................and are sparse with facts and more of a propaganda attempt than anything else.

  • c.e. young
    November 11, 2012 - 07:26

    Here's something to think about; a) Ontario Hydro and Ontario Power Generation will probally be sold to the private sector. b) Investors are lining up to get in on this sale. c) The Obama Adminstration is looking for long term stabilization. d) Ontario cannot support it's power needs in demand periods. c) Ontario wants to sell the U.S. power. d) Where's this power going to come from?

    November 11, 2012 - 00:49

    When you look at the one sided contract that is in place now with the upper churchill falls power and Quebec, by Quebec taking the lion share for the sale of power, and not wanting to let NFLD use their its power grid to move power, The rummer of what happened after the signing of the Upper Churchill Falls contract Between NFLD and Quebec appears to be true, It has been said that the people from NFLD which travelled to Quebec aboard CFEL,co private jet ,when returning to NFLD crashed into No. 6 IOC iron ore pocket in LABRADOR CITY and exploded all aboard was killed and the contract and everything aboard was destroyed, it is said that the one sided contract that Quebec has is not the one that was signed by the people representing NFLD which were very capable of drawing up a good contract on behalf of NFLD

  • John near Markland
    November 10, 2012 - 21:21

    2041 is not difficult to plan for. CFLCo can simply sell the power for the current price. This time they sell it to NALCOR rather than Hydro Quebec. That might not sit well with HQ but they will have to let the shareholders vote on it.

  • joe
    November 10, 2012 - 19:34

    The Liberals are letting ANDREWS PARSONS, a vey immature MHA to make their case against MUSKRAT FALLS.The LIBERALS first of all gave away the UPPER CHURCHILL and ROGER GRIMES was set to give away the LOWER CHURCHILL until it was exposed and stopped.Please Mr. Parsons, from now on get your facts right and try to be a little more professional.

  • Cyril Rogers
    November 10, 2012 - 13:49

    What Minister Kennedy fails to state is that we will very likely need only a small portion of the power available from the Churchill Falls plant when it comes under our control in 2041. Indeed, QH does own a third of CFL(Co) but surely they cannot dictate what we do with it beyond that time. Are we now to believe that if we want somewhere between 1000-2000 MW of that power, we can't have access to it? It may not be free but I fail to see how we would, with majority control, not be able to dictate how much power we can take for our own use and how much we continue to sell via Hydro Quebec transmission lines. In that event, a 5000 MW line across Nova Scotia MAY be the only recourse but we are not there yet. The reality is that we will have access to ALL the power we will need at that time and the bulk of it will be available for sale elsewhere. Their obsession with Muskrat Falls is blinding them to all other alternatives and they will find excuses to proceed, despite the enormous risk involved. The enormity of that risk is going to be proportionate to the amount of debt we will incur, coupled with the oil revenue we will forego, by the government handing several billion dollars over to NALCOR to build this project.

  • saelcove
    November 10, 2012 - 09:49

    With nalcor,s approval the government released more info on muskrat

  • Harvey
    November 10, 2012 - 08:31

    Quebec...90M ...NL 1M from Upper Churchill. This sad!!! And we say that Canada is a confederation....what a laugh !!! Presently, I am not a supporter of the P>C> gov't. However, I am in favor of the development of M Falls. The Liberal and NDP stands stinks of politics. Andrew Parsons, your comments and your party's comments are not going to sway me to vote Liberal. This applies as well to the NDP. If different leaderships and opinions fail to materialize, I'm afraid I will not vote in 1915.

    • John in Whitbourne
      November 10, 2012 - 21:16

      @Harvey ... Those are BILLIONS not MILLIONS as in: ___ QUEBEC $90,000,000,000 NL $1,000,000,000 __ and that is all due to the giant brain the size of a planet that was JOEY.

  • Concerned
    November 10, 2012 - 08:16

    That's just to bad for us, now isn't it Jerome. So you're going to put all of us Newfoundlanders in the poor house just because Quebec made more money than us. You must think all of us Newfoundlanders has STUPID on our heads. This government should be ashamed of themselves.

  • John Smith
    November 10, 2012 - 07:59

    All along the opposition has been screaming for more information...for independant studies on alternatives and options. Then, when the government complies, even though they don't have to, it's not good enough? What do these people want? of course this has nothing to do with the project...and everything to do with getting in the media in a vain attempt to get out of the 15% polls they are now receiving. It will not work Mr. parsons...the people of NL are much more intelligent then you give them credit for...

  • badameli
    November 10, 2012 - 07:49

    I’m concerned,” he said. “They’re rolling this out — this has been the third or fourth press conference this week. A number of papers this week, 10 days before a debate was supposed to have happened and we’re getting this information now. If they really wanted people to see this and digest it, they’re going to give it to you in advance. And again it goes back to we’re taking this on the government’s word.” ----So the implied statement is that you can't trust your government and that they're lying? It's all an end around? Disingenious. Don't trust those guys, trust us guys!!! It'll be different when the shoe is on the other foot!