‘I want answers’

James
James McLeod
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Dunderdale preparing independent review of power system

As the dust began to settle on a week of intermittent power outages and uncertainty about whether the lights would stay on, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said she wants an independent review to look at the province’s electrical system.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale, accompanied by Minister of Natural Resources Derrick Dalley, announces an independent review of the electricity system for the province at Confederation Building Thursday. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

“People are wondering what the heck is going on,” she told reporters Thursday afternoon.

“I want answers.”

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) has already announced that it is doing its own investigation into what went on to cause the blackouts, and Nalcor head Ed Martin said the utility is doing an internal review as well, but Dunderdale’s review is far broader.

She said she wants somebody to look at the whole scope of the electrical system and the regulatory structures behind it to make sure everything is working as it should.

That puts the PUB squarely in the crosshairs since, as the energy regulator, its job is to examine all proposed spending by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro before it does any repairs, maintenance or upgrades on the system.

The accusation out in the public, Dunderdale said, is that spending on infrastructure maintenance was deferred in favour of Muskrat Falls. She said that hasn’t happened, and it would be the PUB’s job to make sure that sort of thing doesn’t happen.

Dunderdale said she has complete confidence in the PUB, but during the same news conference, she also said it couldn’t do this sort of examination, because the regulator will be the one under the microscope.

“You can’t ask somebody to investigate themselves,” she said.

Dunderdale couldn’t say the exact terms of reference, who will conduct it, how much it will cost or any other detail of the review.

Those parts are still being worked out by provincial government bureaucrats, but Dunderdale said they’d firm it all up within six weeks.

Neither of the opposition parties were particularly impressed.

Liberal MHA Tom Osborne said by drafting the terms of reference and picking the person who does the review, the government will be able to control the process.

“Government is going to draft the terms of reference,” he said. “It’s almost the same as the fox watching the henhouse.”

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael has been calling for a full inquiry by the PUB, and she said by taking it out of its hands, the government is trying to marginalize the regulator.

“I think this government is once again belittling and diminishing the role of the PUB,” she said.

Martin, for his part, said he welcomes the review, even though Nalcor subsidiary Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will also be under the microscope.

“It’s been a significant event. Any information that we can get, any type of review that we can get, we always take what we can get,” Martin said. “We never shy away from reviews — independent, external or internal.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • aubrey lynch
    January 10, 2014 - 14:31

    i think its time for hydro to buy new equipment for the holyrood plant..they seem o be patching and repairing 99 % of thr time..muskrat falls is a long ways off>if it goes ahead.the pulbic needs power now and we deseve it

  • aubrey lynch
    January 10, 2014 - 14:09

    i think its time for hydro to buy new equipment for the holyrood plant..they seem o be patching and repairing 99 % of thr time..muskrat falls is a long ways off>if it goes ahead.the pulbic needs power now and we deseve it

  • Anna
    January 10, 2014 - 12:30

    Wouldn't the obvious answer be that Ed Martin isn't doing his job and should be fired? Why wasn't the forecast done properly? Why are they doing maintenance in December in Holyrood?

  • Well
    January 10, 2014 - 11:42

    In a related Telegram article published today... The Public Utilities Board (PUB) announced today it will hold an inquiry and hearing into the recent rotating power interruptions and extended unplanned outages on the island interconnected electrical system.. queue the contrary

  • david
    January 10, 2014 - 10:56

    Welcome to the next 2 decades, Newfoundland! A brand new reality show called "Chasing Muskrat". Enjoy seeing half a million people waste every waking moment of their lives obsessed with politics, electricity, and nothing else. This will be a real life Truman Show, where we're all Truman. Stuck on the island, kept in the dark, and played for complete fools, much to the rest of Canada's entertainment.

  • Jon Smith
    January 10, 2014 - 10:51

    Thomas has a good point. It is difficult to find any arms length independent investigator, certainly not Manitoba Hydro. But engaging the UARB of Nova Scotia would be a good place to start. UARB would understand the situation, have knowledge of regulating in an environment where power is transmitted in a cross border system. And you cannot but admire the excellent job they did to protect Nova Scotians in both price of energy and security of supply in dealing with the Muskrat agreement. You most likely could not find a more competent entity to carry out this review.

  • Terry Walsh
    January 10, 2014 - 10:25

    Really really too little too late Premier Dumberdale ....oops did I really say that? How thick and dumb do you think us lowly Newfoundlander's and Labradorian's are to believe that this ruse and political hype is of real concern for the people of the people ....gimme a break I wasn't born yesterday and for you to insult my intelligence now after the fact that you care.....gulp that was me swallowing my bile getting sick of your BS.

    • saelcove
      January 10, 2014 - 10:49

      It worked for danny boy

  • Terry
    January 10, 2014 - 10:20

    Really really too little too late Premier Dumberdale ....oops did I really say that? How thick and dumb do you think us lowly Newfoundlander's and Labradorian's are to believe that this ruse and political hype is of real concern for the people of the people ....gimme a break I wasn't born yesterday and for you to insult my intelligence now after the fact that you care.....gulp that was me swallowing my bile getting sick of your BS.

  • Thomas
    January 10, 2014 - 09:27

    This inquiry is flawed from the start. Independent has not been defined, one of the bodies being looked at (government) is drawing the terms of reference, the PUB is not the body conducting the inquiry and finally the big puzzlement is that Muskrat is not a part of it. Is there a fear that findings will show that the required maintenance on existing equipment was put on the back burner in light of Muskrat? This must be investigated properly - and PLEASE - not Manitoba Hydro doing it.

    • Maurice E. Adams
      January 10, 2014 - 10:59

      It seems to me that making sure that Muskrat Falls proceeds smoothly is what is really behind this so-called independent review.........Government's News Release says "...my government will work to draft terms of reference and identify an independent body to conduct a review that will look at the operation, management and regulation of our system to ensure a smooth transition into an interconnected system in 2017" ---- the "interconnected system in 2017" referred to is MUSKRAT FALLS......... So whatever is reviewed, analyzed, assessed, recommended, etc. MUST be consistent with the full speed ahead and push for Muskrat Falls......... Essentially, this is an effort by government and Nalcor to smooth the way and minimize, obscure and "ensure" that Muskrat Falls from here on in proceeds smoothly and the people do not turn any further against their $10 billion pet boondoggle.

  • Winston Adams
    January 10, 2014 - 08:39

    Rolling blackouts is a crisis form of power demand management. A formal demand management system(DMS) is something our government has an ongoing policy that our power companies NOT undertake. This requires an explanation from our Premier herself, as it is her policy. It is something most power companies in the world do have. It is a prudent thing to have. Instead of a DMS we have a very weak Conservation Plan. It has achieved no meaningful flattening of our winter peak loads. This makes us very vulnerable to equipment failure or loss of some generation supply. As an ex employee of Nfld Hydro(electrical engineer) I made a very critical submission to the PUB last Feburary, in regard to their pitiful, shameful efficiency measures under their Conservation Plan. It covered perhaps a dozen areas of analysis, none of them favourable. The Conservation Plan is jointly administered by Nfld power and Nfld |Hydro. If my analysis was in error in any way I had expected some feedback from either of these as to any errors. Neither party identified any errors, and I heard not a word from Nfld Hydro. Mr Martin says "we never shy away from reviews" but that is exactly what it appears to me, as to my review of their Conservation Plan. My submission and testimony (for anyone interested) is online with the PUB as a part of the Nfld Power rate application. The PUB took my submission serious enough in that it ordered Nfld Power to file a report in regard to one of my recommendations by April 2014.

  • Tony Rockel
    January 10, 2014 - 08:36

    WonderTail wants answers: yes, but only the kind of answers that will make her look good.

  • In the Dark with Dunderdale
    January 10, 2014 - 08:23

    I figure Dunderdale needs to create her own information to contradict the P.U.B. It worked well for her on Muskrat! I'm sure it will be a perfect storm cause. To think that all they have to do is tell the people the truth but our information has to go through some crisis management team, more worried about the premiers image then living up to the oath they swore on when they were elected. Just look at Steve Harper! The man can't answer a straight forward question but he can talk all day about MP Justin Trudeau. And we all wonder why we can't get answers.

  • Graham
    January 10, 2014 - 08:18

    I bet Jerome Kennedy is enjoying every bit of Stunderdales self destruct mode shes in lately. At least Jerome had the guts to do the right thing and walk away from the Stunderdale circus. To bad its only Osbourn and Kennedy who can think for themselves..

  • BAYMAN
    January 10, 2014 - 07:13

    Was not the Premier listening to all those maddening press & TV releases. What she really means, surely, is "I want the truth, not corporate whitewash".

  • Well
    January 10, 2014 - 06:19

    From the above article. "The Public Utilities Board (PUB) has already announced that it is doing its own investigation into what went on to cause the blackouts..." Gee, bet this won't satisfy the hyper partisan peanut gallery.