Hydro budget includes accommodations for workers

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Reliable power side by side with health and safety considerations

Imagine walking into your office or home, with the heat hitting you — the temperature 25 degrees warmer inside than outside.

The NL Hydro plant in Rigolet, Labrador. — Telegram file photo

That has been a reality for some Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro employees, who have dealt with heat building up in one of the utility’s isolated power plants, in Charlottetown, Labrador, where diesel engine generators run hot and the ventilation system doesn’t always work.

“Operators have seen the plant reach 50 C in the summer, which is unacceptable from both an equipment and personnel standpoint,” consultants with Hatch stated in a report filed with Hydro in April 2013.

The result is a proposed fix on the ventilation system — just one of the 109 construction, maintenance and replacement projects described in Hydro’s  new, 2015 capital budget application.

The utility has requested the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities to give approval for approximately $80 million in new spending to cover the utility’s project list.

A fix for the temperature inside the diesel plant in Charlottetown has been gathered together with similar upgrades for temperature control at the plants in Cartwright and Makkovik. The cost for the project, spread over two years, is estimated at roughly $493,000.

Another proposed project tied to working conditions, involves what has become a fly in-fly out location at Ebbegunbaeg, in central Newfoundland. Hydro wants to spend about $1.5 million over two years to replace the accommodations and septic system at that remote site.

The utility wants new housing with rooms for six people, each with a dedicated washroom. If approved, the facility will also have a kitchen area, laundry facilities and a common/recreation area, notes the budget document.

“Hydro employees working at Ebbegunbaeg have typically stayed at the existing site accomodations facility until 2013, when the condition of the facility was deemed unsatisfactory, as a result of concerns regarding the deteriorating building structure and mold growth,” it states.

The original accommodations were built in 1966.

“Employees no longer stay at the facility, but rather are transported to and from the site via helicopter daily,” it states.

The Telegram requested more information from Hydro on Tuesday afternoon. A representative for the utility said response would not be available before deadline for this story. But further information will be reported as it becomes available.  

Meanwhile, Hydro is continuing on its previously reported long-term plan for adding female washrooms to its buildings.

In 2015, the utility wants to spend roughly $260,000 on the work. It is the third year of a 15-year program intended to meet modern occupational health and safety regulations and industry standards.

“Given that the existing facilities contain single washrooms, the alternative of installing privacy locksets and affixing unisex signage on the washroom doorways was considered,” Hydro notes in justifying its expenditure.

“Consultations with the provincial occupational health and safety enforcement officers have deemed this to be an unacceptable solution. The regulations state that separate facilities are required — the provision of additional washroom space is required.”

And so prefabricated facilities will be attached to existing buildings at Hydro’s Come By Chance, Long Harbour and Stony Brook terminal stations, if the plan for 2015 is approved.

The utility’s complete capital budget will be reviewed by the regulator, with input from industrial customers, the consumer advocate and any interveners over the coming months. The regulator reviews planned spending project by project.

Hydro’s submission includes a five-year outlook on its capital expenses. Averaging $66.1 million a year from 2009 to 2013, the utility plans to spend an average of $209 million a year from 2015 to 2019.

Ratepayers will be tapped to cover the costs.



Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities, Stony Brook terminal

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Newfoundland, Cartwright Makkovik Long Harbour

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Recent comments

  • Concerned
    August 07, 2014 - 09:49

    This does not include the 300 million to build the line to Labrador West. Government and Nalcor have indicated that how this cost will be distributed is up to the PUB. But who will pay? This cost has not been included in any of the future rate projections.

    • Maurice E. Adams
      August 07, 2014 - 10:55

      Nalcor's documentation filed with the PUB says that the new $119 million combustion turbine for Holyrood will add 1.6% to retail rates. At that rate, Muskrat's $8,200 million cost will increase rates by more than 110% (not including the additional $300 million line to Lab west.).

    • Maurice E. Adams
      August 07, 2014 - 11:03

      Nalcor says that its $119 combustion turbine will increase retail rates by 1.6%. At that rate, Muskrat's $8,200 million cost will increase rates by more than 110% (not including further cost overruns and the Lab west $300 million line).

  • steve
    August 07, 2014 - 08:20

    I see a future in NL very soon where civil disobedience and mass demonstations will be needed to rid this province of NALCOR and put it into the hands of a selected group of Nlers who will put Nlers first and freeze rates and stop this madness. We need Muskrat Falls,but this is OUR resource,not Gov,t or Nalcor or the shareholders.Soon be time to take it back by whatever means .

    • Ben
      August 07, 2014 - 13:49

      Nalcor was set up to enrich the friends of the PC government. We are doomed.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    August 07, 2014 - 06:54

    Have to find every way possible to bump up rates between now and when Muskrat comes on stream so that the Muskrat rate shock will be less obvious, and of course, the greater the base cost that is plugged into the formula, the Muskrat percentage increases bring in even greater revenue from the pockets of ratepayers.

    • The Ancient Profit of Newfoundland
      August 07, 2014 - 09:23

      Nice article in The Shoreline Maurice. The best dissent may be the 23% you referenced. I don't believe it will be completed. The power has always been the red herring. No one needed it but Harper for Green cred, and he bullied Danny of the mound. There will be less imperative to finish it as time goes by. A socially engineered slow cooker of emotion has been created that is dividing people at a time when we should be finally ready grow as a progressive society. The Liberals will cancel muskrat and add smart meters. This is my speculation. If Oppenheimer gets in we can pretend to be rich for a few more years. Yes, the profit also predicts him to win.

    • Morry
      August 07, 2014 - 09:49

      A dog and his bone.