More nonsense from the power crowd

Brian
Brian Jones
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If your calculator’s batteries ran low while adding up the clichés and banalities churned out by Premier Kathy Dunderdale during Monday’s Muskrat Falls sanctioning speech, take comfort in the fact that soon — once that river of gold is harnessed — you’ll be able to put batteries in a recharger until they veritably burst with overabundant energy.

About those banalities: you’d think that for $7.7 billion the long-suffering and self-flagellating voters of Newfoundland (and Labrador) would deserve serious explanation worthy of adults, rather than political puffery.

To whit: “Today represents a significant change in our relationship with the federal government. We are now a full partner in the federation of Canada.”

Eh? We weren’t before? Apparently, all those Canadian passport-toting Newfoundlanders flying to Florida and the Dominican have been fraudulent imposters. Now that Muskrat Falls has the official go-ahead, they must be truly Canadian.

Inconsistencies in logic abound. It must be doubly confusing for Greg Malone and the tricolour-

carrying crowd — conspiracies against Newfoundland are supposed to be plotted by odious outsiders and conniving Come From Aways, and yet here are our own leaders taking us to financial doom while sycophantic MHAs dutifully applaud.

Redefining regulation

About those inconsistencies: the Progressive Conservatives have argued all along that the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project is economically viable. They have commissioned reports to prove it.

But the government instantly contradicts this assertion by introducing legislation that will prevent the Public Utilities Board (PUB) from analyzing and regulating prices charged for Muskrat Falls power.

Instead, Nalcor will be entitled to set power prices for ratepayers at any level needed to pay for the project.

So, the new dam and its transmission lines will be financially beneficial for those paying monthly power bills, but no, the PUB will not be allowed to do its job and ensure those bills are reasonable and fair.

If this makes sense to you, then by all means, pay your Muskrat Falls bills without complaint when they start arriving. And boy, are they ever going to arrive.

It gets worse. Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy, explaining why the PUB won’t be allowed input into setting Muskrat Falls power rates, said the new law is necessary so lenders are reassured they will be repaid.

In other words, the loans will be paid back, whether or not ratepayers’ bills are fair and reasonable.

In 25 words or less, explain how this utterly contradicts “economically viable.”

Hint: if an endeavour really is economically viable, it shouldn’t force consumers to pay artificially set and legally enforced prices. That’s 19 words. Feel free to add six more. Curse words are acceptable.

Muskrat monopoly

It gets even worse. The same legislation that will fire the PUB gives Nalcor a 50-year monopoly over the production of electricity for sale in the province.

Over in Nova Scotia, they’ve been experimenting for a number of years with tidal power in the Bay of Fundy. If anyone ever figures out a way to harness those waves, consumers and environmentalists alike will rejoice over blue energy.

But not in Newfoundland (or Labrador), where people will be locked into a half-century commitment to buy power from Muskrat Falls.

Ditto for wind power.

If there’s a technological breakthrough, consumers in this province won’t benefit, because we’ll pay for power from Muskrat Falls until, oh, about 2062.

So much for the hype about green energy. According to the government, energy is only green if it’s hydro.

Our best hope now is that outsiders will save us from ourselves. Pray to whichever god you worship that the government can’t find a lender. Perhaps someday Malone will write a book about it: “Don’t Lend to the Newfoundlanders.”

Brian Jones is a desk editor at

The Telegram. He can be reached at bjones@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Progressive Conservatives, The Telegram

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland, Canada Florida Nova Scotia Bay of Fundy

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Recent comments

  • Ron Hiltz
    March 18, 2013 - 22:23

    I can not bear the cost of supporting any more N.S. goverment or industry gifts as I have difficulty paying my power bill and property taxes now!! All N.S. government has ever proved is what it could not do. Nova Scotia has failed to grow a solid agri economy, a sustainable fishing industry, a safe system of roads and gutted the railroad system. If a industry can not stand on its own two feet with out a hand in our wallets to operate then I dont want it, we dont need it!! it is not true industry. I feel at 60 I have caryed my shair of the load and I should be able to consider retirment and not be shafted for power bills and property taxes when I all ready pay the N.S. government 5 thousand in taxes each year and not have to consider selling my home before I retire becouse property taxes and power bill are pricing me out of my home.

  • James G. Learning
    December 21, 2012 - 15:23

    It's no secret by now that NunatuKavut and Nunatseavut oppose this projet, first because it's not for Labrador. Second because it will poison our waters,and the food in it. Clap trap about mining revenues and deals aside, becaues they are asiudes, were never in the original justification. I don't honestly remember what was in which Justification. So, all of that aside, the two ineffective Aboriginal groups I hope will be on the front lines to stop this fiasco, and save the NL rate payer. My call would be to other Non-Aboriginal rate payers, come with us on the front lines, you will never regret it. This Island and Territory need to be saved from this Willams/Dunderdale horror. Every drop of oil revenues, every rock in Labrador will be savaged to pay for this fiasco. I can't imagine anyone listening to Maurice Adams factuals, and still be confused. Like the man said now we are truly Canadian, why because we are about to be in tax hell, I don't think thats where the average Canadian is. I lived and worked in Alberta for over 25 years, the tax rate was a dream. They are Canadians. So what is that statement all about. More clap trap, no doubt. It would appear if the NL Government can't do anything right, it can't do anything. The Newfoundland history is one of failed governments, here we go again. Only difference is this time everyones eyes are wide shut.

  • a business man
    December 21, 2012 - 15:16

    Thanks for pointing out the GM insert Maurice. I have more financial interests in Nova Scotia than I do in Newfoundland, so I am perfectly okay with Nova Scotia having their energy rates frozen while Newfoundland gets a 2% increase annually. Actually, I wouldn't have it any other way. This is perfect for me, and I get to support it, democratically, by voting for the current government. I understand why you disagree with MF, and I respect your opinion. HOWEVER, I am a taxpayer and citizen of Newfoundland too, and the NL government is doing something that is in my best interests. So I have a right to support MF, and I have a right to be ecstatic over the fact that NS power rates will be frozen why NL power rates go up. It really is Christmas!

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 21, 2012 - 12:34

    If there was and is any doubt that Bill 61 (Muskrat legislation) was designed by government to be a MASSIVE TAX GRAB, an amendment proposed today to use excess revenue to lower rate for ratepayers was ruled by the Speaker as "out of order" --- which in effect means that the purpose of Bill 61 is not just to provide power to island ratepayers, but to raise money "FOR GOVERNMENT USE" ---- in other words a 'tax grab'. Why else would the Speaker rule the proposed amendment to use excess MF revenues to lower rates be ruled out of order?

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 21, 2012 - 11:13

    The G & M insert today (Eastern Canada's Energy News, Earth Resources), quotes Nova Scotia's Premier Dexter as saying that Muskrat Falls "will lower costs over time because Nova Scotia will have a frozen price for energy for 35 years" ---- while NL ratepayers will be locked in to an annual 2% escalating rate increase for 50 years.------- The premier then goes on to say that ""just imagine yourself if you could buy electricity today at 1995 rates. Here's a real interesting piece. You can imagine energy passing through Nova Scotia going to New England. We would be able to buy off of that line at the New England price, minus the transmission cost...and if they (NL) transmit, they pay a wheeling rate to Nova Scotia Power across the transmission lines that then has to be taken into account as income for the purpose of calculating the rate of return for Nova Scotia Power. Either way, (Nova Scotia) ratepayers benefit" -------And I would say, that either way, NL ratepayers PAY.

  • Winston adams
    December 21, 2012 - 08:53

    Maurice, You say facts and rational thought does not matter. Aristotle must be turning over in his grave..... but you are right , it matters little. Rhetoric dominates. Misinformation dominates. Someone I know, a person who cannot afford high power bills , remarked about our Premier's sanction speach, how she "pronounced every word just so". So style is more important stan substance. It must say something about our species. Oh well, the Mayan's said today was the end of an era. I beleive it was Mark Twain who said that a lie will make it half way around the world before the truth gets out of the starting gate. Just got to pity all those who will be later complaining about the high power bills. The same ones who were silent and didn't care when it could have made a difference. Can't really blame them. They are victims of those who will profit from the plight of their fellow man. I do not wish for MF to fail, for the sake of failing. It just seems there are better and lower cost solutions. I beleive in efficiency, wind and island hydro. But my views got nowhere. More rational thought of those in Nova Scotia or the feds may save the day, who knows?

  • Missed Boat
    December 21, 2012 - 08:52

    Welcome to all you Johnn-come-latelys who suddenly oppose this disaterous agreement. But it's too little too late.

  • a business man
    December 21, 2012 - 08:23

    Firstly, I'll admit that I am fully in support of MF even though that it MAY cause hardship for some newfoundlanders. I am okay with that, because I expect to see an indirect benefit from MF. Secondly, if MF destroys the economy and causes people to lose their homes, I am okay with that too because then more people will be renting and the demand for rental homes, including the ones I own, will increase. AND if people are losing their homes, then there will be some cheap homes on the market. Make no mistake, I do not wish for anyone to lose their home, EVER. BUT if a government decision causes some people to lose their home, well that is life and the reality is that for me, it is just another business opportunity. Thirdly, I expect that some of the benefit that I will see from MF will be in other provinces/states. Since I benefit in this scenario too, I am okay with newfoundland suffering so that other jurisdictions can prosper, for no other reason than that my interests (and wallet) are being supported.

    • Eli
      December 21, 2012 - 08:43

      Tongue-in-cheek comment for sure, but I for one get your drift. Tough times ahead.

    • a business man
      December 21, 2012 - 09:41

      Yes, it will be tough times for a few, and the majority will benefit. Like I said before, this is democracy at its finest

  • DWB
    December 21, 2012 - 07:23

    I will admit that I was on the fence about my support (or lack of it) for the MF project. After listening to Kennedy explaining how the entire burden of repayment of these massive loans falls on the shoulders of the people of a very small province, giving Nalcor God-like status with regard to setting the rates of repayment, absolving Nalcor from the public tendering act, removing it from Auditor General examination and Bill 29.....well, I am scared to death for the future of this province. My prayer is that the good folks in Nova Scotia will see fit to direct Emera to run away from this project.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 21, 2012 - 07:16

    Consumers will not even be able to use Upper Churchill power in 2041 (and therefore have no alternative market to Quebec). We will also pay (not including debt servicing and operating costs) 5 times more for our 40% of Muskrat power than Maritimers or ratepayers in the U.S will pay for their 40%). ........Facts, rational thought just does not matter. .........Government sees an opportunity for a multi-billion dollar TAX GRAB from its own citizens --- and it is, by legislation, locking its own citizens into that by way of this ELECTRICITY TAX --- and no one seems to care. ......... Even the Liberals are salivating at the time that they can form the government and have their turn at setting the electricity rates so that they can throw taxpayers own money around at election time --- obtained through this Conservative imposed multi-billion dollar tax grab. ------ If ratepayers do not wish to be FLEECED, they must speak up now.

  • Corporate Psycho
    December 21, 2012 - 06:35

    If MF was the lowest cost option why r they afraid of competition? We have been totally taken advantage of. The special interests have taken over completely. Hope everyone likes Fort Mac. Danny will be left here by himself.