Making rules

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You can’t have it both ways. But reading Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s news releases from last Friday, you have to believe she wants to try. In Toronto, Dunderdale was lecturing other provinces and the federal government on the need to allow the open transmission of electrical power across this country.

“It is essential, as a result of this strategy, to establish rules and practices which ensure non-discriminatory open access to transmission service across provinces. This should be tied to a timely, effective and impartial system for resolving disputes with respect to the acquisition and provision of transmission service,” Dunderdale said, adding that a new regulatory framework opening access would help to launch new clean power sources. “The benefits to be realized from sound investment in this country’s energy infrastructure and a truly open access system for energy trade can be significant and long-term, and will shape Canada’s economic and environmental future. This is a matter of national interest.”

Dunderdale pointed out that, right now, that system only partially exists, thanks to requirements from our American neighbour.

“Canada does not have a national electricity system. Its system is a patchwork of provincial systems under provincial regulatory jurisdictions. Open access policies have been adopted, not in compliance with Canada’s own regulatory requirements, but in response to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulator’s requirements for participation in U.S. competitive wholesale markets. … The continued absence of an effective interprovincial electricity transmission system in Canada means we cannot always develop the best projects across the country for the benefit of all Canadians and we cannot benefit from improved integration of our electrical systems. This puts our country at a competitive disadvantage.”

It’s an admirable goal.

Strange, then, that Dunderdale’s own government talks the talk, but actually walks the opposite way. Not only is her government locking access to the grid in this province with legislation banning the sale of power by anyone but itself, it has also admitted that its legislation is likely in violation of the existing U.S. Federal Energy Regulator and open-access transmission tariff guidelines Dunderdale herself mentioned on Friday. Why? Because, without the law, companies might purchase cheaper power from outside the province instead of using Muskrat Falls power, hamstringing the expensive project from the outset.

Asked directly about the problems created by using legislation to close the Newfoundland market to new electrical generation sources, then-natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy said the government would wait and see whether its new rules were challenged: “Under the open access transmission tariff, there certainly would be an argument there, but we’ll have to wait and see how that develops. ... But you are right. Under (Federal Energy Regulator) and under the (open-access transmission tariff), there would be or could be potential arguments, but we’ll have to wait and see if they arise.”

So, on the one hand, Dunderdale is saying that barriers to the transmission of energy must fall.

On the other, her government has just passed legislation building exactly the kind of barrier she decries.

It’s a strange world.

Geographic location: Canada, Toronto, U.S. Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Maurice E. Adams
    April 24, 2013 - 06:38

    Very good point Cyril. You are correct of course.

  • Cyril Rogers
    April 23, 2013 - 19:12

    Every time the Premier speaks, she demonstrates her total hypocrisy without having the wherewithal to realize it. Somebody in her public relations department or her office must be falling asleep at the wheel if they are writing this crap for her. Maurice Adams states that it may be time to take a sober second look at Muskrat Falls. I don't often disagree with Maurice but I would state that it is time to take a sober first look at this project because their first attempt was a blind stab in the dark. They manipulated the fact to fit a preconceived outcome, they ignored all kinds of issues that they hope will go away, and they have no idea of how much it is ACTUALLY going to cost. Any sober person will realize that the final cost will be astronomical, all to create a measly 500 MW of power, most of which will NEVER be needed on the Island of Newfoundland. These power deficits...if indeed we ever do experience deficits at all....can be dealt with incrementally over several years at a fraction of the cost of this project. We have been badly misled to satisfy a preconceived agenda of business groups and individuals who care only for the astronomical profits they will make from this make work project.

  • Wondering
    April 23, 2013 - 14:33

    Is there a better word than STUPID to describe the situation where we about to go double the power rates of Man, Que and BC, who are like us, have major hydro resources. And this double the rates is supposed to keep industry and commercial and residential rates competitive here? All by our own government.

  • Ed
    April 23, 2013 - 14:26

    Time to take a sober second look at the PC Party... But wait, what do we have to replace them with? I don't see any acceptable replacement, none of them are fit to govern this province.

  • Jon Smith
    April 23, 2013 - 12:36

    "This puts our country at a competitive disadvantage.”. Wait a minute Newfoundland and Labrador is part of the country. Why is our own government putting us at a competitive disadvantage? Sounds like the blind leading the gullible - don't it!

  • KoolAid Grins
    April 23, 2013 - 09:20

    And that's why building a dam in Labrador is so complicated. It doesn't make sense. They created Nalcor, passed bills like bill 29, sunk a punt load into nalcor and hoarded 2 billion of taxpayers money to get shady multi national companies to do the projects, with cost overruns and intends to borrow 8 billion more on the heads of Newfoundlanders who aren't even born yet. Yet we will be giving most away to mining companies at discount rates and so another private company can make a mint off of it, all to get on a grind that apparently doesn't exist. This is what steve kent must of meant when he said that he was EXCITED about the premier's leadership and where she is taking our province. The only one's going around now with a smile seems to be a few people with koolaid grins. And that still can't hide all the frowns caused by this provincial government.

  • hua mulan
    April 23, 2013 - 08:47

    from your preface, i mistakenly assumed our honourable premiere had become canada's first lady, that harper had taken over total control of democracy and she in her own little c29 way had made nl the fareast of the new world, was on a 1% lecturette route practising to be a worldly senator , similar to what another totalitarian had said in her speechworks, and gw is saying to those attending his tparties ... but upon reading your piece i found that not to be the case:)

  • Maurice E. Adams
    April 23, 2013 - 07:36

    Time to take a sober second look at Muskrat Falls.