Liberal Leader Dwight Ball tried to lay blame for the January blackouts at the feet of the provincial cabinet Tuesday in the House of Assembly.
But despite saying he’d give a clear answer, Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley wouldn’t say whether he knew there were problems in the system ahead of the blackouts, commonly referred to on social media as DarkNL.
“Nalcor and government have said that unprecedented power demands were to blame for DarkNL. However, Newfoundland Power’s report says that the power demand was only 2.2 per cent higher than their peak forecast,” Ball said at the beginning of question period. “Why did you lead people of Newfoundland and Labrador to believe that DarkNL was caused by unprecedented power demand, when clearly this was not the case?”
Dalley said repeatedly during debate that he’s waiting for answers from the people who are responsible.
“We all know that all of that is under clear review from the Public Utilities Board (PUB). Our government clearly supports that, Mr. Speaker. There’s reports being done and compiled by Newfoundland Power, Newfoundland Hydro and the PUB. All of that will be looked at,” Dalley said. “It was obviously a difficult time in January, and we’re having a close look at that situation, and we certainly look forward to the PUB report.”
But Ball also wanted a straight answer to one question: did the minister get a heads-up about the problems?
Ball asked it a first time, and when he didn’t get a satisfactory answer, he asked it again.
“Maybe I didn’t articulate the question well enough. Maybe the minister didn’t hear it,” Ball said. “The question was: were you aware that Nalcor was missing the deadlines on the repairs to those facilities, and that they were not going to be available? Clear question, I ask the minister.”
Dalley didn’t directly answer the question.
“Clear answer, Mr. Speaker: the responsibility for the management, administration and certainly management of assets and decisions around utilities in this province certainly rests with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, it rests with Newfoundland Power and it rests with the Public Utilities Board, Mr. Speaker.”