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Focusing on past issues can only handcuff us

This month, I had the pleasure of visiting Labrador with a group of 18 executive women, including a tour of the Churchill Falls hydro plant. It was a trip we planned to get a better understanding of the vast opportunities in Labrador.

As an active business person striving to be well informed, and as a past chair on Nalcor’s board of directors, I already knew the plant remains the second biggest underground hydro facility in the world.

But seeing the plant with a group of new people was an incredible experience and made me proud to know Newfoundlanders and Labradorians built it and continue to operate and manage it today.

The women from other parts of Atlantic Canada were also impressed. Impressed with the magnitude of what we had achieved and with the opportunity knocking on our door today — Muskrat Falls.

 

Bold move

We have a chance to influence our future direction by making a bold move.

And while no megaproject comes without some degree of risk, I believe we are well-equipped and experienced to manage those risks.

Building and managing megaprojects is what we do.

We built Churchill Falls and we keep it running today.

We built and managed Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova.

Now we have the opportunity to build Muskrat Falls.

We need to have confidence in ourselves and our ability to succeed. Hydro is not new to Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have been in the hydro business longer than we have been in the oil business.

Muskrat Falls is a complex interweaving of multi-business cases, but that doesn't mean it’s wrong.

It means we need to fully understand why the business case works now and for future opportunities we know of and for others that will appear.

And then we need continue to manage the project in a world-class way.

 

Rooted in past mistakes

As I stood on the ground in Churchill Falls, I reflected that its story, too often, shackles us to the past.

Instead, it should enable and empower us to feel more accountable to get things right.

It should remind us of what we have accomplished in the past, what we’ve learned and what we can do in the future.

The development of Muskrat Falls will not burden our children with debt. It will give them a valuable asset with predictable clean energy.

Muskrat Falls gives us an opportunity that so many provinces, states and countries only dream of — the chance to know for 50 years that we have secured power for our people and our existing and future industries.

Muskrat Falls gives us the chance to build a revenue stream which will strengthen our province, especially Labrador; instead of paying others for our power we will be paying ourselves.

Whether at the negotiating table or the kitchen table, it gives us a chance to change the way the world sees us and the way we see ourselves.

 

Cathy Bennett is CEO of the Bennett Group of Companies.

Organizations: Bennett Group of Companies

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Muskrat Falls, Atlantic Canada White Rose Terra Nova

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Recent comments

  • Pierre Neary
    October 05, 2012 - 16:46

    If its okay with you Ms. Bennett I'm going to wait for the final Mcnumbers before I decide.

  • Will Cole
    October 05, 2012 - 16:16

    Why not just build a nuclear reactor to generate electricity, and fuel it with enriched uranium mined in Labrador? The resulting radioactive waste could be conveniently disposed of by simply having the crowd on make-work in Frenchman’s Cove burn it on their town beach. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2012/10/01/nl-frenchmans-cove-beach-debris-burned-1002.html

  • The fish resource is the most important natural resource in the World.
    October 05, 2012 - 13:13

    I SUPPORT MF said "I do not give a rats a** about the fishery." That is the saddest thing I have ever seen written on this site. You are not so well informed because the fishery, a renewable resource is the most coveted industry in the whole World. It is coveted by Canada, it seems to trade off its agriculture and manufactured produces, while the rest of the World wants it for the food value. The fish resource is a resource that will be around for eternity if it is maintained properly and given that the province of Newfoundland and Labrador produces just 3 per cent of its food supply, having a fish resource around should have made us a rich province with protein security, but the sad thing about it our politicians, it seems have now released it entirely to the Federal Government under the upcoming CETA Agreement so that it can garner international trade for the rest of Canada. It is very sad the way some people think, to be honest it is a very immature way of thinking.....the Oil and Minerals are a finite resource, while the fish resource should be infinite if taken care of properly.

  • I support MF and I am no Millionaire or Business Owner
    October 05, 2012 - 12:31

    As my name says. I fully endorse Muskrat Falls and NO I AM NEITHER A MILLIONAIRE NOR A BUSINESS OWNER. Rather I am a well educated (underpaid) web developer who 100% supports the development of MF. Why do I support it you may ask, well that answer is very simple: TO ATTRACT NEW INDUSTRY to our wonderful province. I do not give a rats a** about the fishery or tourism and I certainly do not want to live in the past! So to the opponents to state that everyone that is for this project has to be either a millionaire or a business owner is a complete fabrication of the truth!

  • Sickened by the process of the Muskrat Falls.
    October 05, 2012 - 12:20

    The "pro" force seems to be the developers or those who will have segments of the Muskrat Falls contract to develop and will make Millions from it; the "anti" force are those who will be forced to pay off the measly 800 mega watts of energy, which will not be 800 mega watts because it will be greatly reduced by transmission loss, at an exorbitant rate per kilowatt hour from their measly non-indexed pensions. The pros remind me of the scam artists or fly by-nighters in today's world. They see million dollar, dollar signs dancing in front of them and they will be around to profit from the development of the project but if things go wrong, they will fly the coup and will be sitting comfortably in their castles in Florida or some South Sea Island resort area while Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will be living in poverty.

    • John Smith
      October 05, 2012 - 16:11

      Well if not muskrat then what? Tell us your answer to our coming energy needs. Do you think Cathy Bennet, who sells hamburgers will make millions from the muskrat falls development? Give me a break, we spent 18 billion dollars on healthcare in this province over the past 5 years, and you think a one time loan of 4 billion will have everyone living in poverty...an extra 20 bucks a month to keep our rates from ever climbing higher? Give me a break...I am so tired of the utter ignorance on this issue...

  • Cyril Rogers
    October 05, 2012 - 11:56

    For those who wish to review the submissions to the PUB, I am not great at creating links but you can google: PUB of NL and go to their Home Page. In the lower right corner you will see: NALCOR - Muskrat Falls Review, and below it: Complete Documentation. Click on that and it will take you a list that includes: Comments and Documentation. Go to Exhibit # 11 or Exhibit # 11 - Revised. You will also see a number of other presentations, including some from Maurice Adams and Winston Adams. They would be interesting to view as well. From what I can see all of these people are simply interested in the wellbeing of this province. They are "naysayers" because they care about our future. Sorry if the process to get that to that documentation is a bit confusing.

  • Raymond Pike
    October 05, 2012 - 11:45

    Ms. Bennet's letter is short on the reasons why this is a good project financially. I imagine she does not have any access to the figures either. That is at the heart of this development: no one doubts electricity can be generated at Muskrat Falls, but at what cost is the question. The previous mega-projects she lists are proven to be profitable, MF is not as no one has the project cost numbers.The rest of her letter plays upon old wounds and moving on. But we cannot move on at any cost. That is simply not good business. She would not build one of her McDonald's restaurants in a community of only 100 people as it does not make sense.

  • Matt
    October 05, 2012 - 11:27

    As each day goes by, this seems to becoming a debate between the people who will profit from project (shareholders in mining companies and other business interest) and those who do not have anything to gain financially.

  • A Request for a submission to the PUB
    October 05, 2012 - 11:15

    Mr. Rogers, can you paste the address of the businessman's submission to the PUB on this site, I would love to read it.

  • Cyril Rogers
    October 05, 2012 - 10:40

    I will not impugn the motives of Ms Bennett who, I am sure, is sincere in her belief that this project is great. I would suggest that she carefully read the submission put before the PUB by JM, the anonymous businessman. It contains a wealth of information as to why this project is potentially disastrous and I would suggest that all proponents read it too, if they dare!

  • Winston Adams
    October 05, 2012 - 10:24

    John, it seems you can argue against anything except energy efficiency. On that you say "nice idea but a pipe dream" Now 35 years and 400 million already on MF sounds like a pipe dream to me.By the way, did you hear Dave Vardy say efficiency is the way to go? On the Paddy Daly show. Hope to get my Part 1 In the paper next week, sure to give you a few laughs.

    • The Adams Family
      October 05, 2012 - 10:57

      Are you guys related? One is constantly pushing his blog and you're pleading to get in print. Jeez, write a letter to the editor like any one else.

  • John Smith
    October 05, 2012 - 09:13

    Well, to the know nothing naysayers I say...if not muskrat then what. We can read the comments from fools like those here, that offer no alternatives, and are just more hate filled diatribe. How can we debate against that? If someone came forward and said...it would be better to invest 4 billion into daming the last two small rivers, and refurbishing the aging plant in Holyrood, then I can persent a valid argument against that...it is very easy. If someone said we should refurbish holyrood and set up some windmills...I can present an argument against that...if someone says we should spend billions to create a natural gas industry, and supply gas to a refurbished holyrood, it is very easy to argue against that. But when they come on and say...muskrat falls is some bad b'y...and offer nothing other than to deny we will need additional power...how can you debate against those who are in complete denial of the truth or facts. it is impossible. They will never, never agree with anything that sees this province develop. They are content to sit back, collect their cheque, and wait till they die. Thank God we have people with drive, ambition, and vision like Ms. Bennet in this province, people who don't want to sit on the wharf and collect the dole. Muskrat falls is an intelligent well thought out answer to our coming energy needs. How about we hear from the naysayers about their answer to our needs? Oh, wait right, they say we don't need any power, or any industry, or any growth, or anything else.

    • Brad
      October 05, 2012 - 10:17

      John the only fool on here is you. People have done their research and provided multiple cheaper alternatives to this mega project and you shove your head up your butt and refuse to listen. All of your arguments are insult based and offer no actual statistics or data(same as the governments arguments actually). I am neither for or against this project, but listening to your immature responses compared to those of people who have actually done their homework makes me lean towards not supporting it. People who blindly follow government wholeheartedly on every decision are a lot like sheep going over a cliff. If the mining companies need more power they will figure it out they have lots of cash these days, that's not our problem.

    • John Smith
      October 05, 2012 - 11:50

      ...just as I thought...no answers, no alternatives...just the same old useless crap...

  • Steamer
    October 05, 2012 - 08:42

    I automatically feel better when multimillionaires tell me what to think. Perhaps they can get an endorsement from Donald Trump, next? Bennett, Woodward, Collingwood, Williams, and MacDonald won't have trouble paying for their light bill but I don't think you can say the same for young families, students, seniors, the disabled, and the working poor... Bennett is promoting Muskrat Falls as a vanity project! "It gives us a chance to change the way the world sees us and the way we see ourselves." While we are in the habit of securing loans, why don't we build the tallest building in the world, just because we can? Besides, why would anyone be impressed with a small and expensive hydroelectric dam that was built with borrowed funds without any demonstrated demand? I'm sorry but our involvement with the oil industry is small compared to the scale of our participation in Muskrat Falls. As well, does Bennett think that Churchill Falls was actually worth building after all of these years considering that we traded the profits away for trinkets and baubles?

  • Maurice E. Adams
    October 05, 2012 - 08:38

    "It means we need to fully understand why the business case works now and for future" ---- It does not work..... PERIOD (I note that you said nothing, you did not at all, explain the 'business case')........ No agreement from Emera for a link to Nova Scotia (therefore with no link, we would again have to sell excess power to Quebec). In any event, any and all outside sales would have to be sold at a MAJOR LOSS (subsidized by ratepayers). Any sales to the mining companies in Labrador would have to be at a MAJOR LOSS (subsidized by ratepayers)..... Island ratepayers DO NOT NEED THE POWER, PERIOD (see www.vision2041.com) . ......With Muskrat Falls island ratepayers will have $21 billion taken out of their pockets to pay for Muskrat Falls ---- AFTER 2041 WHEN NEAR-ZERO COST UPPER CHURCHILL POWER SHOULD HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE to them. .....How in God's name can anyone say that that makes sense? Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have lost out on the benefits of Upper Churchill for long enough. Muskrat Falls locks that loss in virtually forever.

  • We need an anti-corruption commision, just like Quebec to uncover the deceit and over-charging on contracts.
    October 05, 2012 - 08:36

    William Daniels - You are ABSOLUTELY correct and this is why Bill 29 needs should be revoked to reveal all the corruption that is going to come down the pipeline with the go-ahead of this project. We have a right to know who is involved in the development and we have a right to know what their Contract fees will be to develop this White Elephant that is going to sink the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and its people into a cess-pool of debt and poverty, while the multi-millionaires who are lined up to get a piece of the construction pie will each add tens of millions to their net worth, and I will hazard a guess that there might be one or two who will add hundreds of millions. We need an anti-corruption commission just as Quebec has that is revealing so much corruption in their construction industry, the over-charges are mind blowing and so are the names of who are who are involved. I am not against the Muskrat Falls if it were built for the rightful cost to build it, that being non one cent more than $3 Billion dollars for just 800 megawattes of energy. CRAZY! We will be literally skinned alive with the cost of this project if it is allowed to go ahead.

  • Jim
    October 05, 2012 - 08:30

    Another pig at the trough! It is unreal how these business people will sell out ordinary joes on Muskrat Falls, destined to cripple US financially. It's those same ordinary joes who keep her McDonalds' going, incidentally. Some thanks to them.

  • William Daniels
    October 05, 2012 - 07:36

    Oink, oink. Make more room at the trough. This group of business people that have banded together all stand to make a fortune. For example, Pennecon already has a huge contract. Of course these people are for this givaway. Lest we forget.

  • Not so fast...
    October 05, 2012 - 07:12

    Fools rush in. Just because a project is possible, it doesn't mean that it's the best course of action. The concerns about Muskrat Falls have nothing to do with the Churchill Falls deal, that's a construct of the proponents. The concerns are simple and come down to one question. Is it project the most economical way to meet our future energy needs? We haven't seen the numbers, or estimates of alternatives. Nor has Cathy Bennett. Think about that.