The need for power isn’t proven

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I write concerning The Telegram’s Oct. 23 front-page story, “Danny Williams’ Top 10 reasons for Muskrat Falls.”

For brevity’s sake, I will address only several of Danny’s 10 reasons for proceeding with Muskrat Falls.

First of all, according to Danny, “it has been demonstrated that we need the power.”

Isn’t it interesting that for someone who has spent the better part of his life presenting rational, well-thought-out arguments before the courts (all necessarily supported by facts and law), that when it comes to the most important and risky venture in the last 60 years facing his

fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Danny Williams offers nothing more than rhetorical statements and unsubstantiated claims, poorly disguised as “facts.”

There are no facts, as Danny claims, supporting his position that “there is a demonstrated need for more power.”

There are no facts, as Danny claims, that “clearly show increased industrial and residential demand.”

The facts actually say otherwise.

In its written submission to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), and contrary to Danny’s claim, Nalcor itself states that there is no increase in industrial demand forecast past year 2015.

Furthermore, the province’s own two 2011 energy-related plans (its Energy Efficiency Action Plan and its Climate Change Action Plan) both state clearly (and factually) that between 1990 and 2008, residential energy demand did not increase, but instead, actually decreased by 17 per cent.

Accordingly, Danny’s facts do not support his first and most important reason for proceeding with Muskrat Falls — that is, that according to Danny, it has been demonstrated that we need the power.

Instead, the facts actually support the conclusions of the only two independent reviews to date, the federal/provincial review panel and the province’s PUB reports, both of which have already previously concluded that Nalcor had not “demonstrated” that we need the power.

At best, Danny’s argument is reduced, not to a “demonstration” that we need the power, but to an irrational, unsupported, non-evidence-based, rhetorical statement based on Nalcor’s 50-year “forecast,” a forecast similar to its 10-year forecasting accuracy track record error, which (even after just 10 years) has historically been so large as to equal almost half of the average output rating of Muskrat Falls itself.

If Nalcor’s historically proven track record error rate were extended over the entire 50-year Muskrat Falls forecast period, the over-forecasting error alone would more than double the average forecast output of Muskrat Falls.

Furthermore, it is Nalcor’s “forecast” on which the very economic viability of Muskrat Falls depends.

It is also important to remember that only two options were presented to the PUB for review, and both were crafted by the proponent — Nalcor.

Nalcor not only crafted both options, the proponent also crafted and set out the parameters of the review itself, and by doing so limited what otherwise could have been an extensive, comprehensive and more objective process.

Such an approach, which included an unheard of 50-year forecasting and cost comparison process, effectively biased the entire process in favour of Muskrat Falls, while, at the same time, worked to the clear disadvantage of the only other option.  

In summary, while Danny quotes an unnamed wise man as having once said that, “The sure way to miss success is to miss the opportunity,” I rely on both the facts and on the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who once said that “Even if you are a minority of only one, the truth is still the truth.”

Maurice E. Adams


Organizations: Public Utilities Board

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls

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Recent comments

  • Winston Adams
    November 01, 2012 - 12:30

    Phil, the parameters of the argument are what one says they are. Do we need to shut down Holyrood as a base generation source? Nalcor and Danny would say yes , Maurice says no. And this is an input into the demand question. I chose to go along with the need to close Holyrood for base generation, as necessary for the environment. MF can achieve this but at very high cost. Efficient heating supplemented by the small island hydro and some wind can also do it , at much less cost, and actually a decrease in customer bills. Maurice's site once had a heading called Bridging. He has dropped this. But unless you show a viable , cost effective alternative, then the status quo is not a solution, and a challenge against mother nature. Granted , Nalcor, not others should have explored all alternatives in detail. Efficiency has not been explored, nor refuted by Nalcor,just ignored. They do not use best practises for forecasting, do not do end-use analysis, and can argue that efficiency may not work, when we are using it for all our large government buildings, and saving more tan 60 percent on heat. Nalcor told me they have no intent to do end-use analysis. Tells how serious they are about efficiency, and helps explain why other jurisdictions do 10 times better to save customers on energy bills.Rhetorical language by the Premier about rationing is wrong and silly. An alternative proposal needs to be rational, economic, and doable. Efficient heating requires all customers investing some savings, with a substancial rebate by the govn. Failing that, all customers will need to dig much deeper into their piggy banks later. Once sanctioned, those costs will be locked in, to the detriment of everyone. I have not waited for a rebate program. I have considerable experience in this field and made the decison and reduced my energy bill by 42 percent. Others are doing this, but at present this is too little and perhaps too late, perhaps not? We need a quantum shift in our view and move in this direction. Failing that, Go MUSKRAT GO.

  • Petertwo
    November 01, 2012 - 04:19

    The difficulty I have reading the cons and pros is that no one knows the future. The provincial govt. budgeted erroneously when they prophesied the cost of an oil barrel. Which does not mean they are wrong over the Musk rat, the oil could have gone as predicted. Electricity is the way of the future, fossil fuels are no longer supportable, cost or pollution wise. Does the opposition to the project believe Quebec should dominate the electrical power of the future in the east?

    • p earle
      November 01, 2012 - 08:21

      The issue to me is will Nfld need more power by 2041 then it can supply to itself ? After which date we will own the power from C Falls. If it can be shown with a fair and prudent investigation that we will need such extra power and M Rat is the best way to give us that power...then go with it. However it has not been shown number one that the island will need extra power in that time and two that M Falls is the cheapest way to supply that power. (The Pub would have given the most accurate assessment of what method is the least cost option , but was denied that study. And as Mr Adams's article clearly shows here, as has been done in all other nalcor and government presentations, we have been given a positive snow job on the figures which in truth the reverse of it's conclusion is the case.) pe

  • Winston Adams
    October 31, 2012 - 15:56

    The title here say "the need for power isn't proven". Now that is a true statement. Williams goes on a forecast that is not very reliable, and may very well be wrong. But a forecast is more that rhetoric, although too much of that is used. A forecast may be right. Yet the forecast demand growth is small, especially aside from the Vale load at Long Harbour. Houses have become more efficient. But with more houses being built and generally larger houses, it is prudent to forecast more demand, unless measures are taken to offset that demand. How much is prudent to pay to offset a small demand? 7.4 Billion? There are much more economic methods to offset the demand and actually lower houshold bills. So the truth is that the need for power isn't proven. But it is also true that the need for power is not unproven. This makes Nalcor, and Danny, a proponent of fact as much as Maurice. The need for more power can be reasonably proved false. With sound economic measures to offset the small damand that is forecast, from island resources that is sufficient to last several decades. Island resources that large and viable are in this order: efficiency with heating(2/3 reduction in energy use), island small hydro, some wind. This is , it appears to me , to be the only winning combination. Most important is our ability to determine what the demand will be rather than leaving up to chance. Chance is risk. Big chance is high risk. Do we need more power? We can by our choice push the answer to NO . The truth can then be We don't need the power- but this truth is NOT absolute. We likely will need to revisit the issue in the next decades- but this is what power companies always have to do.. but hopefully without blinkers on and assess all alternatives. A recent CNN special on America's optons looked at nuclear , solar , wind etc.The last option they saved for last because it was the best. That option was ENERGY EFFICIENCY and based on the McKInley study. Why is it not taken seriously here? We can learn a thing or two from the Americans. They have researched this. No need to repeat what they have done, except to fine tune it for our particular circumstances.If this approach is not properly evaluated, then push on with Muskrat Falls. It will be a pity if in years to come, if there are no sales for this power that Martin will have his excuse ready - that the people was't interested in that approach. Of cource, that choice is being ignored and not being put to the people. To ignore can make one ignorant, I guess. Not a progressive policy, by any party.

    • p earle
      October 31, 2012 - 22:33

      The previous premier made comments that Nfld will need ,in the near future, increased power and implied that Muskrat Falls should be developed to supply that power. But from the very figures that Nalcor uses for the islands future power needs, and the existing power production that is now in place and will be in place in Nfld up until 2041, Nfld will not need ‘outside’ additional power. On this basis, within the parameters of Mr Williams comments, his conclusion that the Muskrat falls project should go ahead because of Nfld’s need for it’s power is totally false. What has been proven is the falsity in his presentation, who’s, therefore wrong, conclusion was the future need of Nfld for Muskrat’s power. Pe

  • p earle
    October 31, 2012 - 15:26

    Wow! As self contained and transparent an article as I have ever read on an expose of facts that the proponent of the Muskrat falls project , Nalcor, produced itself ..which unrefutably discredits and trashes one of Mr Williams main contentions that NFLD will need the future increase of power that Muskrat Falls can provide. On the basis of the information, and the explanation of it's ramifications, that you have given in this short, concise article, it generally makes, the whole crew of people who have invested interests, direct and indirect, in the Muskrat Falls Project look like charlatans. You can believe in the profoundness of Gandhi's remark on truth, and that profoundness is not just a word is something that I could talk about for days and days...a discussion, a dialogue on the meaning, and actions, of truth. One comment that comes to mind, which fits in this case of a charlatan, is what the Danish philosopher and theologian Kierkegaard said.."I have seen the enemy, and it is myself". My hat is off to you Mr Adams...for this incredible article. Every high school in this province should have the substance of your concerns presented for debate and it made mandatory reading for every citizen of the province. P earle

  • Maurice E. Adams
    October 31, 2012 - 13:43

    Point taken, David. MHI also speaks (loud and clear) about "magnified risk" due to the long, 50 year forecast and cost comparison period. It also relates to why (many months ago), in an earlier article in The Telegram, I argued that the 2 questions should address (not what power and costs might be over 50 years) but what power do we need now and over the next 20-28 years leading up to 2041, and what would those costs be.

  • Muskkrap
    October 31, 2012 - 12:59

    Danny gave the bunch working on the Muskrat propaganda such a good review, I tunk they were members of the ice caps.

  • Winston Adams
    October 31, 2012 - 12:51

    John, isn't it 85 MW for Vale? And if efficiency can offset 3 times Holyrood production last year, would't that allow 25 Years ---- and at less than 1/4 the cost, and 35 percent lower bills to households. And if nothing more economic that MF comes in 25 years , do it then. isn't that more prudent?

  • John Smith
    October 31, 2012 - 12:37

    The Vale plant alone will require 100 megawatts... we could squeak along with demand side managemeant, for another 5 or possibly 10 years...then we would still need muskrat, and it will cost 4 times as much to build...

  • David
    October 31, 2012 - 12:21

    Well presented, Mr. Adams. One nit: there is actually nothing fundamentally wrong with making a 50-year long as everyone realizes that: 1) the confidence of any forecast declines proportionally with how far out the years forecasted are, and 2) regradless, of accuracy, the economic value of those far-out years declines exponentially with time, and 3) that therefore, any project must be supprted by shortest, most near-term portion of the forecast period for it's feasibility, both in terms of value of the cashflows and certianty of receiving them. I have heard no noe....NO ONE....from Nalxcor or the governemnt mention any of this most idiotically basic project mangement cornerstone. They all prefer to speak in terms of eternal salvation, vision, destiny and other wortyhless BS.

  • Cold Future
    October 31, 2012 - 11:12

    The 38% increase in 6 years works out to about a 5.5 % increase per year. The rate of inflation for electricity in Canada is probably about 1 %. But if we assume a high rate of 2%, it means that that we will be well beyond a reasonable increase rate of about a total of 12 % in 6 years. If the project cannot keep the annual increases to less than 2 %, it is not viable because there most likely are alternatives which can limit increases to 2% or less. If the need for power isn't proven, then the need for excessively high cost power must must be - maybe unreasonable, unwise, insane, fill in the blancs----------?

  • Eli
    October 31, 2012 - 08:33

    New mining ventures coming to Labrador will demand cheap power and they'll demand and get it from the government of NL. Doesn't Danny have a vested interest in one of those companies? Passing strange.

  • Aub
    October 31, 2012 - 08:18

    Schools, hospitals, fish plants, etc. are closing. People are leaving the province in droves--look at all the empty houses in the outports. Electric cars are not yet perfected and it will be a long time before we see a general use of them. Why, all of a sudden do we need all this power?

  • Winston Adams
    October 31, 2012 - 07:51

    Little John Smith, last week you inferred there would be a 'little' price increase to households due to Muskrat Falls. Your figures suggested 18 percent. I said that Nalcor had six months ago stated about 40 percent. So where is the truth? The Premier now has the Calculator on line, Randy Simms is currently discussing this on VOCM, and laughing. But here is what the Calculator shows. By 2018 the power cost to households go up 31 percent. That's on top of the 7 percent just 3 months ago. Thats 38 percent from the price in June 2012. A little increase? And if demand and revenue drops, or there are large cost over runs, the power costs goes up more. There are better ways to both reduce demand and actually lower household power bills.

  • Calvin
    October 31, 2012 - 07:49

    Maurice, wanna know one hard fact concerning the increasing residential power demands? Houses being built now, and for the forseable future, are being built with only electric heat. Many homes in the past were built with wood and oil furnaces, decreasing the heating load on our system. That heating load is going to continue to increase with each and every home built in Newfoundland today. Another load that will be placed on our system, which is hardly considered presently, is electric cars. Forecasters predict that by the year 2020 there will be over 1.5 million electric cars on Canadas roadways. As the planets oil reserves deplete the number of electric vehicles being used will increase until the point is reached where all cars are electric. Keep in mind that fossil fuels are not a renewable energy resource but hydro-electric power is. Wouldn't it be nice when all gas stations on the eastern seaboard of North America are converted to electric charging stations, and every home has an electric charging station, for Newfoundland to be a literal electric powerhouse? Look past your own nose and look to the future. This is going to be a legacy, one that our grand children will either applaud us for leaving them, or curse us for squashing out of short sightedness.

    • Show some real vision
      October 31, 2012 - 11:05

      Calvin, your assessment is flawed. You point to new home construction yet ignore older, less energy efficient homes being shuttered or made more energy efficient. Electric cars are all but dead, that technology brings more resource costs than what it saves in energy, the emerging alternative that is being used most frequently is natural gas powered vehicles. Before slinging stones, you should look beyond the myopic view that electrical demand increases are a foregone conclusion. The facts prove otherwise.

  • Ken Collis
    October 31, 2012 - 07:37

    Every single government decision is based on two things. Is it good for the business that pay us after we leave politics, and can we spin the BS in such a way that we don't lose the votes of the majority of the population. That is starting to be the view of almost everyone I know. It doesn't matter the party. We can see government helping in times of great need, (IGOR), and hurting when most folks aren't affected, (ferries and the fishery) but the bottom line is the voters just don't come into consideration when EVERYONE is affected. Personnaly, I don't know what is best when it comes to the Muskrat Falls issue, but who should I believe? Should it be the business who would gain, or the business who will not? I would love to see an election called on this very issue. Then we would see a proper discussion on this and make up our own mind.

  • John Smith
    October 31, 2012 - 07:27

    Hey maurice...have you read the MHI report issued yesterday? There are many pages, charts, graphs ect. that all explain that Nalcor underestimated our future power needs. But hey...I'm sure it's all a big conspiracy...LOL