Playing with power numbers

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“Oh what tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

— Walter Scott

In 2012, the island’s peak demand was 1,550 megawatts (MW). However,

the island’s (non-Holyrood) existing installed net power generation capacity is 1,500 MW — a capacity shortfall (not including Holyrood’s capacity) therefore of only 50 MW.

Why then is Nalcor using two (and sometimes three) large oil-fired generators at Holyrood (producing more than 300 and up to 450 MW of power) to cover off a 50 megawatt shortfall? Why is it that our already existing non-Holyrood generation capacity is not being used to its fullest — before firing up Holyrood?

Why is 300-450 MW of Holyrood power being used (at an annual cost in the range of $100-$150 million for oil) to replace the island’s already existing installed and underutilized non-

Holyrood excess island capacity — when the real shortfall is only in the range of 50 MW?

Is the island’s already existing installed non-Holyrood capacity being underutilized intentionally?

In 2011 alone (the same year that we spent more than $100 million for fuel oil for Holyrood), Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro spilled 694 gigawatt hours of energy-equivalent water (about $100 million in value) over the island’s existing hydro dams.

But if Nalcor did not use Holyrood extensively, how else could government and Nalcor justify an unneeded Muskrat Falls project? If Holyrood were not used extensively, the very need and justification for Muskrat Falls, the supposed $2-billion cost advantage of the project, would go right out the window.

Isn’t it time for both Nalcor and government to come clean with island ratepayers?

The Muskrat Falls multi-billion-

dollar project is a house of cards — a “manufactured right here” $2-billion cost advantage illusion.

The hundreds of millions in annual Nalcor/government revenues are, in truth, nothing more that hundreds of millions of dollars unnecessarily removed (by stealth) from the pockets of low- and middle-income ratepayers and shifted to Nalcor’s and government’s coffers — and then touted as revenues.

In truth, it is money taken out of one pocket (yours and mine) and shifted to another pocket (Nalcor’s and government’s). And for whose benefit?

For Nalcor, the government, Nova Scotia and multi-million-dollar mining companies. A manufactured right here solution — for a non-existent problem.

Maurice E. Adams


Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro

Geographic location: Holyrood, Muskrat Falls, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Great commentary Winston Adams.
    January 27, 2013 - 11:40

    Great commentary Winston! It negates everything that John Smith has espoused concerning Muskrat Falls over the past year. Why John Smith keeps on espousing the falsehoods concerning the facts of Muskrat Falls stumbles me. How stupid does he think we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are?

  • Winston Adams
    January 26, 2013 - 10:50

    I listened to a caller on Vocm who was previously on the board of Nfld Hydro. He said that the transmission lines coming to the Avalon from central cannot handle the load on this end. We have 2-230 kv lines doing that . A line is designed for a certain capacity, and as it gets loaded up a larger percentage of the power gets lost ( in a sense heating the atmosphere). For example ,if transmitting 1000 MW, a transmission loss of 7 percent is 70 MW lost ( just avout enough to supply Lale Inco at Long Hr) or thousands of houses in st John's. A third line would give more transmission capacity and also reduce line losses. The caller to Vocm said the third line plan was scuttles. It seems they gambled on MF and to use Holyrood as backup, despite the oil consumption. St. John's is at the extreme end of our power grid, and is vulernable to transmission line reliability and line losses. Line losses is an important reason Holyrood is where it is, near the main load, and a shorter distance and therefore less risk to icing damage to transmission lines. And these factors are a disadvantage for MF, all in the weighing of risks. MF has many more risk including salt in the Alpine region, GIC( geomagnetic induced currents) and other risks. So our on island hydro is the main reliable source of power, and the more of it that gets to the St johns region the better. The question you pose should be answered by Nalcor. How much island hyrdo is stranded by insuffiicient transmission capacity to St Johns? Is a third line cost effective? How much oil cost would it have saved the past 5 years and the next 5? Even with MF, with a MF failure, can we get sufficient island hydro to St Johns? These are reasonable questions the media should put to Nalcor or Hydro. They won't respond to questions posed by citizens or ratepayers. So the media must pose questions that are deserving of answers. In the end, power reliability affects everyone. John Smith's statement that we are using every scrap of power we can to meet demand seems intended to confuse the isssue and not answer the question. Certainly we cannot exceed the save capacity of the lines, but should we have had another line? The issue is not conspiracy theory, but proper planning and risk avoidance. Not a laughing matter John. When is potential power shortages a laughing matter? Hydro officials warned of this, People didn,t laugh, but were very concerned. And John blames the age of the holyrood assets! Remember too , that the plan is to use those same generators at Holyrood even when MF comes on stream. The generators will not stop . they will be used as for voltage support, but without the oil burning. perhaps John could explain his view that this equipment is obselete and nalcor plan to use if for voltage support?

  • corruptionconcern
    January 25, 2013 - 18:52

    With the new gag order on the Auditor General by NL Gov , bill 29. Nalcor falls outside AG along with Alderon Mines (Danny Williams) getting this free hydro and transmission line. Taxayers foot full bill. Fund misappropriation. Unless RCMP investigate this Muskrat Falls project and SCN-Lavalin's role, no one will ever know anything. Good luck. Books sealed for 50 years? Cronies long gone with offshore accounts by then. I see the gov & Nalcor trolls are out; John Smith. Or maybe SNC Lavalin's? ha See you politicians and contractors in court with SNC crowd. ha Cronyism, Corruption does catch up.

  • Cold Future
    January 25, 2013 - 13:35

    Do not worry about the cost or sales of Muskrat power. John Smith can maybe confrim this. There is a rumor that the state of Florida is having a consultant provide a study that shows that it is cheaper for them to buy power from labrador via nova scotia. It is rumored it will save them a billion dollars over the next 90 years.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    January 25, 2013 - 13:27

    While 40-50 years might be the normal life expectancy for generation facilities like Holyrood, Nalcor's own (Hatch) report concluded that because Holyrood's operations records show that Holyrood has not operated at all times and even when it did, for much of its operating periods it operated at low capacity levels and therefore the generators at Holyrood are 'functionally' only about half their 40 year age....... Also, demand in 2012 was 21 MW BELOW Nalcor's forecast and still well below our most recent 10-year average...... Where is the demand? Our existing installed NET capacity is 1,958 MW (more than 400 MW more than the island's peak demand). ....... In response to questioning from the PUB about the water spillage, Nalcor gave evidence that they expected to keep spilling until Vale comes on stream to increase demand (because there was insufficient demand on the island to use our already existing EXCESS capacity)....... and on and on it goes

  • Is it True or False?
    January 25, 2013 - 12:49

    The url address below in the National Post states "Millions in SNC-Lavalin bribes bought Gaddafi’s playboy son luxury yachts, unsealed RCMP documents allege". If this is true our Auditor General needs to be more than vigilant.

  • John Smith
    January 25, 2013 - 12:08

    More conspiracy theories by Maurice...LOL they are all out to get us...that's right Maurice...this is all a big conspiracy by the mining companies and Nalcor. Thank Goodness we have the likes of Maurice out there to point this out. I think Maurice should get a lawyer and sue Nalcor and the mining companies for all the lies and corruption that Maurice keeps telling us about. Forget the facts...facts like the VP of hydro telling us that we are using every scrap of power we have to meet current demand, that some years when demand is low, and rainfall high that we will have to spilll water, forget the fact that we have a 40 year old pile of scrap in holyrood that has outlived it's usefullness, and needs to be mothballed...yes, forget all that...much more fun to talk up the lunatic fringe conspiracy theories...keep up the good work maurice we all need a good laugh now and then...