It’s easy being an armchair expert and on Muskrat Falls there are many. We’ve been told there is information overload, but few of us understand much of it.
I want to cheer for the project, but I’m still on the fence.
So today, 50 questions that came to me in less than an hour.
In no particular order, I wonder:
1. How much will my light bill go up with the development/without the development?
2. How badly do we need the power?
3. Are there efficiency or conservation measures we could implement that would stave off the need for a new power source for the island?
4. Can Muskrat Falls be developed for Labrador industrial development only?
5. Would the mining companies invest in it?
6. Can we afford the project given our deficit position and the world economy?
7. How much will the federal loan guarantee save us?
8. Can we do it without the loan guarantee?
9. We have heard about both Lower Churchill developments, Gull Island and Muskrat Falls. Why the smallest one now?
10. How will we be able to afford to develop Gull Island?
11. How many jobs will Muskrat Falls create now and permanently?
12. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until we get other major developments, like Hebron, off our books so we will have skilled workers to build Muskrat Falls?
13. Can we pay for Muskrat Falls with our oil revenue only, without the consumer shouldering the burden?
14. How will Muskrat Falls help the environment?
15. Are aboriginal rights protected?
16. Why do some aboriginal groups appear unhappy with the project, and what is being done to allay their concerns?
17. Why can’t we just renovate the Holyrood generating station or build a new facility?
18. What’s wrong with wind power?
19. Have we looked at nuclear energy?
20. What about other hydro developments on the island?
21. Why isn’t natural gas economically feasible?
22. How important is the transmission link to the island?
23. Have we considered a
fixed link rather than submarine cables?
24. If Emera backs out, will we still build the link to the Maritimes?
25. How much capacity do the transmission links have?
26. Can they carry Gull Island power or will more capacity be needed?
27. What recent efforts have been made to reach a deal on transmission through Quebec?
28. Have we asked Hydro-Québec to partner with us on the Muskrat Falls project?
29. Have we asked Fortis or other private companies to get involved?
30. Have we considered having Nalcor become a publicly traded company to help cover the costs?
31. Have we spoken with other provinces and made power-sharing deals with them?
32. What happens in 2041 when the Upper Churchill contract expires?
33. Has Upper Churchill power been covered in this proposal?
34. How long will the infrastructure to be used in this project last?
35. When will the project pay for itself or will it ever do so?
36. What happens if Emera is taken over by Hydro-Québec?
37. What’s the rush?
38. Nova Scotia has 180 days to scrutinize the project. Why don’t we have the Public Utilities Board do so again?
39. How much work has been done on the ground in Labrador and on the island?
40. Why don’t we have a referendum on the project?
41. Is the expected demand for power residential or industrial and who should carry the burden?
42. What is wrong with the mining companies in Labrador securing their electricity from Hydro-Québec?
43. What other industrial development opportunities does Muskrat Falls create?
44. Shouldn’t this project make money, not cost money?
45. Will MHAs be allowed to speak and vote freely?
46. Why can’t witnesses be called in the House of Assembly?
47. Why won’t the debate be broadcast for all to see?
48. Why hasn’t there been written information provided to households?
49. Why have business leaders been so silent on the project until recently?
50. Again, how much will my light bill go up with the devel-opment/without the development?
Gerry Phelan is a journalist and
former broadcaster. He can be reached