Ten reasons why Citizen Williams is wrong

Michael Johansen
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

“The facts,” one ex-politician said recently to a board of merchants, “should be enough.”

Quite right. But enough for what? And which facts? One might ask, but perhaps one shouldn’t. After all, “It is quite simply a no-brainer.”

When a former premier risks his own disdain towards former premiers who stick their noses into current affairs after retiring from office, one might expect the former premier to do more than merely dismiss using one’s brain when considering facts about the proposed Lower Churchill project. But this former premier was Danny Williams.

He implied, for example, that no more facts are needed before the government launches its titanic hydro project. It’s been studied, consulted and analyzed “to death,” he said. The corpse is good to go!

He said Muskrat Falls power will stay in Labrador, even though he also once said that Muskrat Falls power will not stay in Labrador. One must be satisfied with the latest facts and forget all the previous ones. If one doesn’t, one might wonder whether Williams is also able to change other facts, and then the whole fact of all the studies, consultations and analyses will be in jeopardy.

At what point do all the conflicting facts overwhelm the logical basis of maintaining that Nalcor was created to generate revenue and eliminate public debt, even while the company is already wasting $435,000 per day on unsanctioned work and is planning to sink the province’s taxpayers into a hole that’s at least $10-billion deep? But one takes a breath and then remembers not to use one’s brain and so all the doubt fades away.

So, where were we? Right: Williams, in an immediate turn-about, wanted to assure the people of the province that they are still allowed to make up their own minds. He assured his former constituents (that is, all his fellow citizens, or at least those belonging to the St. John’s Board of Trade) that they didn’t have to take his word for anything, not even for what he says about Muskrat Falls.

“Debate is good,” he reminded the traders. “Asking questions is important.”

However, one mustn’t get carried away: “Responsible critics play a critical role in keeping government in check, but opposition just for the sake of opposition is wrong.”

Hearing that, one might perhaps take a contrary stance, but not only to be contrary:

“Responsible developers play a critical role in economic growth, but development just for development is wrong. Developers who knowingly put misinformation in the public realm are just as irresponsible and do greater disservice to the people of this province.”

One might say we have no need to proceed with construction at Muskrat Falls because we don’t have to and it makes better sense not to. Here are the 10 reasons:

1. Any accurately predicted future need for power can be met through conservation, increased efficiency and the development of localized and individual generation.

2. Even from a millionaire’s perspective $10 billion is a lot of money and no alternative comes anywhere close to being that expensive.

3. The debt is so huge the banks will own the asset forever.

4. The project will release poisons into the river and greenhouse gasses into the air. It will drown hundreds of kilometres of lush valley habitat. The altered currents could further harm the ecology of the Hamilton Inlet, possibly accelerating the unnatural salinification of Grand Lake.

5. The currently low interest rates will probably be much higher by the time our grandchildren inherit the humongous debt.

6. Mega-dam technology is proving to be unwieldy and outmoded. Their builders frequently misunderstand and underestimate their risks.

7. The brief spurt of money injected into central Labrador during the short construction phase will leave behind an abandoned economy and a burst housing bubble. Also, if the control functions are transferred to a new centre planned for St. John’s, the town of Churchill Falls could face depopulation.

8. Surplus power suggests a shortage of markets.

9. There will be no assured access to the Maritimes or the United States if Nova Scotians don’t agree to build the necessary transmission line.

10. After an initial increase of power rates, the rates will thereafter be higher.

Michael Johansen is a writer

living in Labrador.

Organizations: Board of Trade

Geographic location: Labrador, United States

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Winston Adams
    November 06, 2012 - 11:59

    John in Whitbourne aka john Smith The 15 -25 percent you use for holyrood production is what Nfld power used in their flyer this summer to sooth the pain of residents with the anouncement of the 6.6 percent increase in power bills, to suggest that oil expence is a big component, suggesting as much as 25 percent is from oil consumption. Now 11.57 percent is from Nalcor web site . Which do you beleive? My calculation was that efficiency can potentially offset 4 times Hollyrood production last year. With a rebound effect etc, achievable reductions would be about 3 times Holyrood production last year. I stand by that. If my math or facts are in error , show me. As to cost , I am working the details . Stay tuned. I don't have a staff of 200 engineers.

  • Winston Adams
    November 05, 2012 - 14:33

    Nattering Nabob: you say holyrood produces 15-25 percent of our energy. Ed martin"s blog at Nalcor under "Analyzing our option for new power" --Go to 'view all 15 responses' and you will find Nalcor says that for last year Holyrood supplied about 12 percent of our power. At another point they suggest 14 percent. Then they give Holyrood production as 885 GWH. And they give the total island generation last year as 7651.5 GWH now 885/7651.5 = 11.57 percent as Holyrood production. My statements were in reference to Holyrood production last year. If you couldn't figure that out and wish to mislead the readers, your lack of understanding is obvious as to the other comments you make. Are you a twin of Johns Smith? Nfld power has 151,000 electric heat customers ,not 280,000. And what is your source of 10 year life for efficient heating systems? You are so far off on your statements that it must be intentional to mislead?

    • John in Whitbourne
      November 06, 2012 - 07:53

      @WINSTON As I thought, no actual information in your reply. You quibble about decimal points which are meaningless. You have no actual usable ideas. Ten year lifetime for ASHP is from comparison to ground source GSHP with lifetimes of thirty years. That is from my own research in planning my own future purchase. The point is, you can't reduce consumption by FOUR times Holyrood production. ___ Your assertion is absurd. ___ The 15-25 numbers came from an industry summary. The lower the percentage, the lower your own multiplier produces. NL Power have 280,000 residential and other small customers. There is a very small number of major industrial customers. ALL customers are potential heating customers. I have about 35% of my heat from baseboard heaters. Lots of commercial sites use baseboard heat as well. ___ You cannot supply heat pumps to only current heating customers as there will be no incentive to drop oil or propane heat

  • Nattering Nabob
    November 05, 2012 - 11:28

    To quote a long-dead and nearly forgotten man who believed in the virtues of being 'average', The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism are alive and well in Newfoundland and Labrador. @David. Quit pining for Roger Grimes and Brian Tobin. Neither of them got anything useful done. They are neck and neck as the mediocre premiers of the century but Spiro Agnew was more average than the two oif them put together and divided by two. @Winston Please provide your evidence. NL Hydro state that Holyrood provides between 15 and 25 percent of the province's power, your claim means that you can save between 60 and 100 percent of all of the power produced on the Island. Please show us how you will replace 60 percent of the power requirements of the Island. You are limited to the $1.6 billion that is one fourth of the capital cost of the power to come here. You must include replacement costs for everything that does not last for thirty years (e.g. air source heat pumps last about 10 years). A mini-split air source heat pump and high-efficiency water heater for residential use will cost around $4,000. There are 280,000 residential customers of NL Power. If we are to provide one installation to each of them, the cost will exceed $1.1 billion but these systems will only last 10 years. Three of these systems will be required over 30 years. You need to spend 1.1 billion and invest 2.2 billion for the replacements in 10 and 20 years. At the end of thirty years, you will need to replace theseems again.

  • Muskrat draws
    November 04, 2012 - 17:45

    1. the costs of localized and personal power generation are phenomenal, maintenance is made difficult and the system is simply not sustainable.. 2. the longer we wait the more it will increase, oil is always increasing and holyrood aint gonna cut it forever. Oil is finite, gravity has been a pretty good certainty and Labrador is not prone to severe droughts. 3. The debt is so huge the federal reserve already owns the Canadian state forever. Including all of our money which doesn't actually exist except on paper. mute point. 4.environmental downfalls to damming rivers are all but certain but the alternatives are not much better and hydraulic fracturing will destroy our land and waters. If the inlet is that important to us, we'll research and create a man-made solution so the dam can work and ecological risks can be nullified. Taxpayers don't want to pay for it so this may be something we have to get over. 5. This is a given, our currency is FIAT we rely on infinite growth to sustain our economy which is not possible. There won't be a pension by the time i'm old enough to retire and there likely won't be a dollar either. Certainly not in the US. Collapse is inevitable whether or not Muskrat falls goes ahead. 6. As do most politicians, artists, managers, engineers, astronauts and birthday party clowns. That's life. Nothings perfect, we deal with it. Tesla had it figured out but we ignored him. 7.As opposed to the prosperity in Labrador now? Give me a break. Mute point. This province doesn't care about Labrador, that's not a secret. This is about our power, not theirs. 8. surplus power is better than brownouts and tends to sell the same way. If it represents less energy markets so be it, but if we can produce energy cheaper with hydro than someone else can with oil, guess who their customers are going to. 9. Someone will or some grown adults will get elected and cooperate with quebec, feds, bluenosers and newfies. We'll figure it out or build it ourselves, northern routes will be opening up within this century and the next as the ice caps melt so we're limited right now but the potential for success is larger than the potential for failure. 10. Energy rates will always climb. And the Newfies will get ripped off as usual. Mute point. Telegram? y u no let me format?

    • Nattering Nabob
      November 05, 2012 - 11:47

      @MuskratDraws __1. obviously __ 2. Holyrood will need replacement in the near future and MF is a lower cost replacement option because of free fuel. It also connects us to two back-up sources of power - Nova Scotia and Labrador which reduces our need to maintain our own excess generating capacity. ___ 3. The Federal reserve does not hold our debt. ___ 5. Infinite growth? Only if you have infinite time, Solar death is a certainty but is not an issue to any of us. Heat death is much further out than solar death. ____ 6. Tesla is dead, we have many physicists and engineers today who are capable of unearthing any 'secrets' that died with Tesla or anyone else. ____ 7. Labrador has potential but that will take time. ____ 8. starting with 824 MW at Muskrat Falls, consumption can go to Labrador West, Goose Bay, the Island, Nova Scotia and to long-term customers in the US or the spot market. It will all be used. ___ 9. Quebec will be rotted about Labrador forever and will not treat us honestly until Ottawa make it a condition of their equalization payments. ___ 10. Look at the TWENTY-NINE HVDC transmission systems in use, being built now or proposed for Europe right now.

  • Winston Adams
    November 04, 2012 - 12:07

    Here's something to ponder John Smith, as you are concerned where the light bills are going. If your monthly light bill is now 200.00, according to the Calculator is will be 31 percent more by 2018 =261.00 a month. You call that a little increase. Now with efficient heating you will reduce your light bill 35 percent. And if that approach is used, MF is not needed. 35 percent reduction is 0.65. And 200 x .65 =130.00 per month since you are using less energy for the same comfort. Now 31 percent up versus 35 percent down,you might think it is a 66 percent difference. But 262/130 is actually just over twice the cost difference. Now you prefer the 261.00 per month route instead of 130.00. So who belongs to the lunatic fringe? Now I don't mean to suggest you're a lunatic, but you're not good at arithemic maybe, or haven't really thought this through.

  • Winston Adams
    November 04, 2012 - 10:15

    Notice how John Smith has not refuted that energy efficiency has the potential to offset 4 times Holyrood production last year. You're not good at arithemic John? And where is Nalcor"s analysis on the potential of energy efficincy?

  • John Smith
    November 04, 2012 - 08:20

    The lunatic fringe has spoken....LOL Maurice...our rates have increased by over 70% since the mid 90s...it is a fact you can easily check. But like everything elese the lunatic fringe says it's meaningless...like this meaningless piece of tripe...written by someone with an obvious bias..... I would like for Mr. Johansen to climb up on top of one of the stacks at Holyrood and take a deep breath...see how nature loving he is then....Attacks like this from the Know nothing naysayers only firm up support for the project...so keep up these lunatic ramblings Mr. Johannsen they are just what the project needs to sway public opinion.

    • david
      November 04, 2012 - 10:24

      Yes, lunatics on the 'fringe'.....as opposed to "insider lunatics" on the government payroll, eh Johnny?

  • Maurice E. Adams
    November 03, 2012 - 13:34

    Muskrat means GUARANTEED higher rates. Whereas, "TWICE" in the last six years alone, rate went DOWN --- due to lower oil prices. And where are oil prices headed now --- down, way down. So much then for Nalcor's so called 40% increase. Muskrat rates could easily double or triple Nalcor's forecast.

  • Winston Adams
    November 03, 2012 - 10:12

    Oh, and Efficiency, the E word, is also very EEEnvironmental friendly.

  • Winston Adams
    November 03, 2012 - 10:09

    How dare you use your brain to counter Williams, who declared "his" project is a no- brainer. On a technical basis, I calculated the that efficient heating amd hot water for the island residential and commercial sectors has the potential to offset 4 times Holyrood production. The cost would be well less than 1/4 of MF power delivered here. So consider putting efficiency ahead of conservation. Efficiency itself is not conservation, but leads to conservation as the resource is used more wisely. Conservation in itself infers a cutback , loss of comfort , which the Premier likes to suggest is rationing- technically Demand Side Management.DSM offers little to the power issue here , efficiency has tremendous potential and rhe economics is even better. EFFICIENCY, consider it as the 'E' word. And it's EEEEXCELLENT. And it is highly EEECONOMIC.

  • David
    November 03, 2012 - 09:44

    Wiiliams is just Joey with an education, one of either little value or the that he's chosen to ignore. His ego was an impediment to good governenace when he was in office, and it remains an ongoing threat to the welfare of Newfoundland as long as people continue to so pathetically accord him the "premier emeritus" status he clearly enjoys. We get what we deserve. Always have, always will.