The electric future isn't ours

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By Tony Rockel

So John Crosbie thinks that Muskrat Falls “is worth the risk.”

I must say that I am shocked and surprised to hear any mention of the R-word, especially after hearing last year’s glad tidings and reassurances from Premier Kathy Dunderdale (accompanied by celestial choirs, no less) that this is a 100 per cent win-win proposition.

But anyway, bully for you, Mr. Crosbie, especially since none of that risk will have the slightest impact on your purse or your person.

I am left wondering though, if you have any understanding of (or give a damn about) the magnitude of that risk.

Concerns for the 99 per cent

Its magnitude depends very much on where you are sitting. For 99 per cent of the population it is a very big risk.

A bad decision such as this one could leave a significant portion of that 99 per cent wondering whether to eat in the cold or suffer from hunger pains without freezing — all the while wondering how to pay the rent.

For the one per cent who, along with Mr. Crosbie, don’t give a damn, it would be business as usual.

The sad part of this fiasco is that while Muskrat Falls is so avidly promoted, with endless hype and hoopla, by fat cats, carpetbaggers, shysters, shills and political hacks as though it were our last best hope for salvation, megaprojects such as this one are about to be relegated to the Flintstone era — an era to which the proponents of this technology already belong.

The way of the future (and that future is now) is through distributed energy resources (DER), using the latest solar, wind and natural gas technologies.

If you don’t believe me, read this year’s report, published by the Edison Electric Institute, entitled “Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business.”

Industry afraid

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association of U.S. shareholder-owned electric companies. It represents 70 per cent of the U.S. electric power industry — and the EEI is clearly very frightened by the rapid worldwide adoption of DER.

This technology is making centralized power production and long transmission lines a thing of the past and threatens to put the big utility companies out of business.

I am confident that within the next 10 years, no one outside of this province will want our hydroelectricity and none but the well to do within our province will be able to afford it. So those who can’t afford it will turn to the rapidly evolving, ever more affordable (and readily financed) alternative energy technologies now being adopted almost everywhere else.

Nalcor’s projections for our future energy needs are grossly inflated and fatally flawed.

Our dependency on their overpriced product will actually decrease over the next 10 years, so what they’re foisting on us is a risky and hugely expensive treatment for a temporary condition. 

It makes about as much sense as a lung transplant for a common cold.

Tony Rockel writes from Placentia.

Organizations: Edison Electric Institute

Geographic location: U.S., Placentia

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Recent comments

  • James G. Learning
    June 06, 2013 - 17:03

    Well, Mr. Crosby certainly has no claim to the realities of daily struggles in life as do the rest if us, so discount his take. As for the MF reality, it does not exist. Pie in the sky for Danny and the other politicians, or more to the point an investment in tax tariff. The old US system of stiffing citizens. So are we Canadians committed to joining this club, in supporting the great American capitalist? Looks like.

  • Ed Power
    June 05, 2013 - 09:47

    Hello, "A Business Man", we've missed your regular Ayn Rand-ian rants. It looks like your Mom give you back your copy of Atlas Shrugged after your latest 'time out'. Too bad. If she were to monitor your homework a little more closely she might nip this whole John Galt thing in the bud, before your social and world view become too warped to be redeemed. Ask her to buy you a copy of Things to Come by HG Wells, it just might work as an antidote to what you have been reading.....

  • Ed Power
    June 02, 2013 - 19:14

    A $10 billion dollar - if we are 'lucky' - hydroelectric project based on projections that are little better than the wishful thinking of the project's proponents is not something that gives me great comfort. Unfortunately, like the US military's frequent practice of buying hardware and weapons systems that fail to work as advertised, if they work at all, due to the political costs of cancelling a project supported by Senators, Congressmen, arms manufacturers and well-funded lobbyists, the MF project will keep rolling along until it reaches 'critical mass', when the political and economic costs of killing it will be too great to bear. The three major provincial political parties are all supporting it, as are our federal MPs, the federal government - with muted enthusiasm - and the other major federal parties. How strong that support actually is will be tested in the next federal election, when the 75 Quebec seats could decide which party forms a government, and the candidates running for those Quebec seats will be under intense pressure to scuttle any project in Labrador that doesn't involve Hydro Quebec. All the NL business sector is on board the MF bandwagon, as are the construction, engineering, manufacturing, logististics and other industries that will profit handsomely from the project. As Dr. Rockel so pointedly observes, the individuals and business interests that most strongly support this project have nothing to lose. They are, in fact, in a win-win situation. Any additional costs to them will just be buried in the price of goods and services and passed on the consumers. If the project goes completely off the rails, they will just pickup and move on to the next project somewhere around the world and bill the taxpayers of NL for their time and expenses. Who wouldn't support a lottery with a guaranteed payout? One winter, in the not-too-distant future, I will be comforted in the knowledge that our 1% have been taken care of as I toss my kitchen set into fireplace and learn how to make candles....

  • Politicians and News Media to blame for failure of Newfoundland and Labrador to thrive economically.
    June 02, 2013 - 13:29

    Great article Mr. Rockel! The reason for our failure to create the "number one" economy in the whole of Canada from our great natural resources and our great location, has been brought on by GREEDY politicians who put themselves and the rest of Canada before the ones they were elected to serve and our local News Media were complicit by not calling it like it was . Shame on our politicians and our News Media.

    • a business man
      June 03, 2013 - 21:45

      Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but I vote for politicians that put Newfoundland last. That is my desire as a Newfoundland taxpayer and voter. Ontario is more important to me than is Newfoundland, so is Mexico, China and India. I don't want Newfoundland to have the number one economy....I am better served with Newfoundland's resources being used to secure trade deals that will benefit Canada as a whole, even if Newfoundland suffers. That is what I want, and that is my right as a Newfoundland citizen and taxpayer. When I vote, I vote my own best interests, and everything else is irrevelant. Just remember that you cannot blame the politicians when it is US, the citizens that put those politicians in power.

  • Roger
    June 01, 2013 - 22:04

    The only people terrified of DER are the people of Ontario who are on the hook for BILLIONS in commitments to build superfluous, uneconomical wind and solar generating capacity, the output of which is produced exactly when it is unneeded, which has to be backed up by natural gas generating capacity, and which is dumped below cost into the US market. Be very afraid.

    • Tony Rockel
      June 02, 2013 - 20:20

      Are you saying that the Ontario fiasco (which is a prime example of how NOT to do DER) is a reason to justify the Muskrat Falls disaster?

  • Eli
    June 01, 2013 - 09:20

    Muskrat Falls will join the doomed Rubber and Chocolate Bar Factories in Holyrood in Harbour Grace on our wall of shame.

  • Petertwo
    June 01, 2013 - 06:34

    It's really about getting out from under Quebec. That province has too much influence over this province and has been gutting it at every possibility, aided by Ottawa for votes. When the fisherman here wanted a bigger quota for turbot it was reported the federal minister at the time told them to ask Quebec. It was also reported in this newspaper a few years ago that fisherman from Quebec had a load of cod caught around Bay St. George when fishermen here were not allowed. I'm sure there are lots of other examples, iron ore processed in Quebec, copper from Voisey's Bay et cetera.