PUB fails to produce power report

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Utilities regulator misses own deadline

Thursday was the deadline, the date set and published by the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) as the day it would finally have a say on the so-called DarkNL power outages of Jan. 2-8.

The PUB was to produce a report, providing to the public its understanding of the state of the province’s power system.

The document was also ex­pected to include indication of any orders being made by the power utilities to get ready for the demands of next winter.

The day went by without a news conference or public statement by the PUB.

There was nothing posted to the PUB’s website and no explanation as to why the hours ticked by with nothing published.

At 4:30 p.m., The Telegram called the office of the chairman and CEO of the PUB.

“Mr. Wells is in a meeting,” his secretary said.

At 5 p.m., another call was made to the same number. This time, the line cut off.

Two minutes later, a “courtesy call” was received from the board’s secretary, who could not say when the report might be available.

She said she was not in a position to take questions.

There was no concern expressed on social media in the meantime, no calls to the newsroom demanding explanation — all suggesting a growing fatigue with the discussion about the capabilities of the power system.

Danny Dumaresque, an often minute-to-minute, vocal intervener in the PUB power review to date, was tied up in nomination proceedings as he seeks a Liberal political seat. He said he would get a look at the power report later and maybe comment early next week.

Others normally commenting on the major milestones in determining the path forward for provincial power, and the cost of those plans to individuals, had nothing to comment on.

As reported, Nalcor Energy subsidiary Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro applied to the regulator for unusually swift approval of the purchase of a new $119-million, 60-megawatt backup generator.

The cost is more than all of the major maintenance and construction work, capital budget work, being undertaken by Hydro in the coming year.

The PUB has since approved the purchase.

It will address the costs — specifically whether or not ratepayers will be hit with the full cost — at an unspecified, later date.

So will the generator be received, installed and running in time for winter?

“Yes, current project planning provides for an in service date within December 2014,” stated a response provided Wednesday by a Hydro spokeswoman.

A previous, power-related report for the province came from Liberty Consulting and was published April 24. It was meant to feed the ultimate findings of the PUB.

As of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the deadline for this story, there was no further information provided from the regulator on its work.

The provincial government, meanwhile, has proceeded with its own, separate power review.

“We have received nine detailed and comprehensive proposals from interested consultants, and we are now in the process of reviewing these proposals through the provincial government’s regular process for procuring consultants. A time frame for this decision has not been set,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources stated in response to questions Wednesday.

“Once chosen, the independent consultant will be required to finalize a work plan and schedule for the review.”

Organizations: Nalcor Energy, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Department of Natural Resources

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Recent comments

  • rod
    May 17, 2014 - 08:43

    Danny williams placed Andy wells at the head of the PUB by decree. Mr. Williams has placed people strategically throughout the bureaucracy to ensure the privatization of NALCOR. This is the end game. Deregulation will follow after privatization.

  • Observer
    May 16, 2014 - 09:33

    With the likes of Andy Wells in charge, what else would you expect? A culture of arrogance and bad manners comes from the top in any organization .

  • Art
    May 16, 2014 - 08:02

    Their all rubbing elbows!!!

  • Maurice E. Adams
    May 16, 2014 - 07:31

    Boy oh boy. If you had gone after Nalcor with only one half the effort and energy (no pun intended) that you have have gone after the PUB ...... They are not yet 1 full day behind issuing an "interim" report --- and here you are, all over them. Did you give the parties such a going over when some wanted (or even the PUB had the good sense to suggest) an extension ofthe time they needed for their submissions or comments? How about in future using your obvious talent to dissect the issues, instead of the quasi-judicial public regulator.

  • Maxwell J.
    May 16, 2014 - 05:25

    The victim of a deliberate campaign of abuse by the ruling Tories, DarkNL has provided the PUB with a rare opportunity for vindication if not vengeance. Maybe the report is delayed because the Board can't find adjectives stark enough to describe the colossal failure of our crown power monopoly to discharge its primary obligation to ratepayers - to keep the lights on.