Sometimes, diplomacy is a gentle little dance — it’s especially so when you’re dealing with friends, neighbours or even family members. How do you explain, for example, that you don’t agree at all with your spouse’s plans for your family vacation?
You have to tread lightly, mind your words — in fact, choose those words carefully to prevent the possibility of long-term bruised feelings.
The same might be true if you are operating a business that’s hopelessly intertwined with another. What if you’re a retailer who has issues with your sole supplier, but you’re also a retailer who knows you will be dealing with that sole supplier for a long time into the future?
You’d be pretty careful about how you explained those issues publicly; you’d certainly be circumspect.
So let’s have a quick look at Newfoundland Power’s circumspect and precise report on Blackout 2014, and where the province’s electrical system is heading, from a report they filed with the Public Utilities Board on March 24.
“… the series of major system disruptions which occurred on the island interconnected system in January 2014 raise potential questions concerning the adequacy of protection and control at the bulk system level. Protection and control systems are intended to operate in a way that isolates defective or malfunctioning electrical equipment and prevents widespread system impacts. The series of major system disruptions during January 2-8, 2014 suggest that protection and control systems may not have operated as they should.
“Over the longer-term, different considerations will apply. The proposed decommissioning of Holyrood generation is a central consideration. Holyrood is the key generating station on the eastern part of the island interconnected system. The eastern part of the system is also the location of the largest and fastest growing loads.
“Following the commissioning of the Labrador in-feed and the Maritime link, virtually all of the key generating resources serving the island interconnected system are proposed to be located outside the eastern part of the system.
“It is not clear how long-term reliability and security of power supply will be maintained at that time. Greater backup generating capacity on the eastern part of the island interconnected system would have likely reduced the electrical system and customer distress experienced in January 2014. Whether increasing backup generating capacity on the eastern part of the island interconnected system will be necessary to ensure long-term reliability and security of power supply is also a key consideration.”
Another polite point from the report?
“Nalcor planning decisions which could clearly impact reliability on the island interconnected system may need to be revisited.”
Now, we don’t have to be as polite as Newfoundland Power. What the company is saying, minus the sweet frosting of politeness and deference for their partner in the electrical business, is that they’re not sure how the system can be expected to be reliable when power has to come from such great distances without any backup.
A company with years of experience supplying power on this island is essentially saying the Labrador line isn’t good enough, and power security for a large number of people might depend on new generation sources on the Avalon.
And that is a whole different picture than the one Nalcor and the provincial government have been selling.