Tom Marshall. — File photo
The provincial government is paying around $75 million to settle with Fortis, which owned part of one of the Abitibi hydroelectric dams that then-premier Danny Williams expropriated in 2008.
In the House of Assembly this afternoon, Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall called it a “fair settlement for the people of the province and for Fortis.”
The government is paying Fortis $18.4 million, on top of previous payments of about $4 million. The government has also agreed to pay off a loan related to the hydro dam, worth about $54 million.
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said he's happy to see the negotiations end, but New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael said it's not a good news announcement.
“I think we need to reflect right now on the hasty expropriation that this government conducted several years ago,” Michael said.
“Mr. Speaker, ‘haste makes waste’, and I suggest that this government reflect on that axiom.”
In total, the government has spent well over $100 million related to the expropriation of hydro dams and water and timber rights from Abitibi-Bowater. In 2008 the company was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and shutting down its Grand Falls-Windsor mill.
The government said that they needed to move quickly on expropriation to keep the assets from being split up and sold in bankruptcy court.
Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall said in the province’s House of Assembly today that an agreement has been reached on compensation for Exploits River hydroelectric assets.
Marshall said the provincial government and Fortis Properties Corporation agreed on compensation of $18.4 million to Fortis arising from the introduction of the Abitibi-Consolidated Rights and Assets Act. The amount is in addition to payments previously made totalling $22.4 million.
“This concludes all compensation arrangements related to the expropriation of hydroelectric assets formerly owned by Abitibi,” Marshall said.
The minister added that a compensation arrangement has also been reached with a consortium of lenders represented by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada for the outstanding loan payments and balance related to the Exploits River Hydro Partnership assets.
Nalcor Energy will assume a loan obligation of approximately $54 million, which will be supported through the provincial government.
Marshall said government took decisive action in 2008 when it became apparent that Abitibi-Bowater was abandoning its pulp and paper operations in Grand Falls-Windsor.
He said the Abitibi-Consolidated Rights and Assets Act was introduced to protect the people of central Newfoundland and the province’s resources, and upon its passage, the hydro, timber and land assets became legal property of the provincial government.