If you don’t get enough credit, you can always generate your own. Why, for years now, the people of this province probably thought that massive oil royalties were the source of our current financial success.
But no: Thursday, Nalcor Energy presented its own version of our financial success in a news release heralding its annual meeting.
“‘For decades, Newfoundland and Labrador has been branded as the country’s have-not province, perpetually in need of a helping hand. But all that has changed,’ said Ed Martin, Nalcor president and CEO. ‘Since Nalcor was established, we’ve discovered ways to put our energy resources to work to generate the wealth our province desperately needed.’”
It’s an interesting claim, especially because Nalcor
hasn’t actually turned over a single dollar to the provincial treasury. It has collected plenty of revenue and has also taken huge equity payments from the provincial government. But what odds?
You take your credit where you can get it — sometimes, apparently, you literally reach in and just take it.
The news release went on to spell out that, in its view, Nalcor has dealt with any and every question that’s been thrown its way: “Martin addressed every question posed by the audience. Detailed information was provided on Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, oil and gas and energy marketing. Martin extended the question and answer period to over three hours to ensure every audience member had multiple opportunities to ask questions.”
There are some questions that remain unanswered, though, one of which is just how much Muskrat Falls is now expected to cost. The energy company originally said updated financials would be available during the first quarter of 2014 — then, that was moved to the end of the first quarter. Then, the energy giant said it couldn’t put a timeframe on when new numbers would be available, meaning the best figures around dated back to Oct. 30, 2012.
Now, the company is saying it expects to be able to release new cost figures by the end of June.
At that time, the company also plans to release details about the power purchase agreement (PPA) that will spell out what residents of this province will pay for Muskrat Falls power. The PPA was signed in November of last year, a fact you can only glean once you are 30 pages into Nalcor’s annual report.
That raises another question. Why is it that a deal signed in November 2013 is so secret that it can’t be released to the people who both own the company and will be required to pay for its decisions and agreements?
Step away for a moment and look at that question objectively. The PPA is an in-house deal struck between Nalcor Energy and its wholly owned subsidiary,
Newfoundland Hydro. The two are so close that they share the same board of directors — Nalcor Energy simply has to dictate to Newfoundland Hydro the price Hydro will pay for Muskrat Falls electricity. Hydro gets to tug its forelock and say “Yessir.”
What, in that arrangement, could possibly contain confidential information that couldn’t have been released immediately?
There are, no doubt, strategic reasons for keeping details from the public — and for promising their release in the future during the summer, when presumably there will be fewer sets of eyes to review them, and with the House of Assembly off for its summer snooze.
Those strategic reasons clearly have far less to do with corporate requirements and far more to do with politics.