Conservation first

Tara
Tara Bradbury
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Maurice Tuff predicted energy situation 10 years ago; questions whether NF Power is in a conflict of interest

Ten years ago, as president and CEO of Blueline Innovations Inc., Maurice Tuff addressed the Public Utilities Board (PUB), pushing the idea of effective demand-side management when it came to the province’s energy, and predicting there would be a time in the near future when the province’s power would run out.

Ten years ago, as president and CEO of Blueline Innovations Inc., Maurice Tuff addressed the Public Utilities Board (PUB), pushing the idea of effective demand-side management when it came to the province’s energy, and predicting there would be a time in the near future when the province’s power would run out.

“We don’t want to wake up one day and not have our lights turn on,” Tuff told the PUB at the time. “Everyone takes for granted that our energy will be there, so we certainly don’t want to shock everyone in 2009 by not having the proper amount.”

Last week, the island did not have the energy it needed, as a result of unavailable generators. It was not quite what Tuff predicted, but close enough to place the topic of energy conservation front and centre.

“I was stressing at the point, what are you going to do?” Tuff told The Telegram this week of his presentation to the PUB.

He also had concerns about Voisey’s Bay coming online, carbon dioxide emissions and that all hydroelectric possibilities at that time had been saturated.

“We said, ‘You simply can’t build yourself out of this. What else are you going to do?’ Our proposal was for people to conserve, to become more energy efficient.”

Blueline Innovations, founded by Tuff and his brother, Danny, developed a real-time feedback system for homeowners, letting them know how much energy they are consuming and what it is costing them. Their biggest market to date is in Ontario.

After the recent power outages, Tuff is worried Newfoundlanders may have gotten the wrong idea about what conservation means. It’s not about going without or being uncomfortable, he explained; it comes down to not using something when you don’t need to use it.

It’s a concept that will have to be implemented even if  — especially if — Muskrat Falls is up and running, Tuff said, noting he’s in favour of the hydroelectric development, but only if it benefits the people of the province and not mainly Newfoundland Power shareholders.

“We, the people, own Muskrat Falls. We sell that electricity either to ourselves or we sell it to N.S.,” Tuff explained. “We could sell it to Newfoundland Power internally and all be inefficient and waste our money and not care what we do in our homes. Newfoundland Power would take their nine per cent, and that would go to the shareholders, versus anything we save. We could sell it out to Nova Scotia and bring in brand-new money to the province and grow the economy.

“We stand to gain immensely by conserving and being energy efficient, and never does that mean being uncomfortable. It just means using it wisely, and selling the excess.”

When it comes to the province’s conversation efforts, Tuff has a problem with Newfoundland Power’s involvement. In the past week, he has taken to Twitter to question the company about the Take Charge NL conversation program, which it spearheads along with Nalcor, asking how beneficial the program has been to date, and commenting on what he believes is a conflict of interest situation.

Newfoundland Power’s goal, as a business, is to make money for its shareholders by selling electricity, he said, questioning how dedicated it can be to getting the public to conserve energy at the same time.

“Last week (during the power outages), they knew what people were consuming and they did nothing about it. Why didn’t they come out last year and say, ‘Guys, we’re on a bad projection here, all these homes going in St. John’s with electric baseboard radiation, we’ve got to do something about that’? They’ll never say it, because they have to grow. If they did everything they could to get us to conserve, they can’t go back to their shareholders and say that we’re on a growth path. What they do is they run right into it, smash it open, and then they are so lucky because they’re not in generation.

“What I think is right is to give them their nine per cent return for doing a great job of distributing our electricity, end of story. Thank you guys, but you’re not involved in energy policy or demand-side management or conservation or any of those efforts because you’re in a conflict.”

Focus on conservation

Karen McCarthy, Newfoundland Power’s manager of corporate affairs and communications, told The Telegram in an email the company is as focused on conservation as it is on safety and the environment.

“Throughout our history we have, and remain today, focused on energy conservation education with our customers, and we do this for two reasons,” McCarthy said. “One, because we and our customers alike are focused on our collective responsibility to the environment, and second, because we want to help our customers achieve energy savings wherever possible.”

Along with the Take Charge NL program, Newfoundland Power instigates rebate programs encouraging customers to install energy-efficient products in their homes and businesses, McCarthy said, and to date has achieved the equivalent of removing 1,500 homes from the electricity grid.

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Newfoundland Power, Public Utilities Board, The Telegram Blueline Innovations

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments