Shallow thinking

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Muskrat Falls has been, and is, the result of shallow thinking.

Looked on as an accomplishment, not as a benefit to the people of the province, the plan was always to get the Newfoundland and Labrador ratepayer to pay full costs and be fobbed off with fabricated needs.

Let’s look at the facts.

First thought — No one could do the Lower Churchill up to now, so let’s show them, who’s  who!

Second thought — Problem: what’s to be done with the power? Newfoundland and Labrador can never use it all, if any.

Answer — First, let’s cut back, drop Gull Island (220 MW and the feds’ half-cost with it) and settle on Muskrat Falls (824 MW) even if it doesn’t make sense — Muskrat Falls is much more expensive per megawatt and we’ll be on our own too!

Second, let’s try selling Nova Scotia most of the Muskrat Falls power. (A snag — no takers, even at half-price) OK, let’s see if we can cover up the cost.


Two choices — one, let’s spill most Churchill River water and just generate less than half the possible power.

Snag — the people will still murder us for the massive cost.

OK, second choice — let’s drag baulky Nova Scotia on-board.

How? They just won’t bite.

Here’s how. We’ll pretend they are “paying through the nose” all on their own, for a dicey, over-priced sub-sea cable or two across to Cape Breton isle, and after that, we will only be kindly helping out by donating a small amount of power out of the goodness of our hearts as really good Canadians.

Newfies are “softies” — they’ll buy that! OK, let’s go.

Snag — Them herring chokers are no fools and are saying, “No way, you give us free and clear enough power so we’re really paying nothing for the cables.”

You want “nouveau riche” Newfoundlanders to pay totally to cure of all our energy needs?

You got it.

OK, OK, a full 20 per cent of Muskrat for nothing.

(Herring-chokers, to themselves, They’ve bought it! Now, let’s arrange it so we get 60 per cent of that power! How? Easy — we’ll get them in so far they’ll be afraid to back out, and then we have our regulator come down hard and say, “No go, no link without 60 per cent”— what can they do then?)

They’ll never buy it!

Don’t be too sure — they bought Upper Churchill, didn’t they, and it’s really the same deal!

How about the present goofy bunch are still not with it and won’t drop a busted deal? Happy Valley is really happy.

Not all, and anyway Muskrat jobs are just a “flash in the pan.” Things will get worse than before, come 2017. Muskrat is wasting money that could be used for stuff that really lasts!

J.F. Collins was Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of finance from 1979 to 1987.

He writes from St. John’s.

Geographic location: Muskrat, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia Gull Island Churchill River Cape Breton Happy Valley

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Recent comments

  • Stephen  Redgrave
    Stephen Redgrave
    November 05, 2013 - 10:26

    The deal with Lower Churchill is just one of many intended to strengthen Newfoundlands woefully inadequate infrastructure which is improving with each passing year. Joint ventures where the Sea links are concerned has a long term strategy , since we can not truck, or ship our excess power to other markets throughout the New England states without first passing through Nova Scotia, and of course they aren't going to let this happen for free. Every hydro deal in the history of electricity is a capital intensive venture that requires the 'heaviest hitters' of the global banking markets --markets that will ultimetely work to ensure we enjoy some degree of success. I will gladly pay an extra few bucks on my hydro bill if thats what it takes to make Newfoundland a more financially sound environment for my kids--And gives them options and leverage when dealing with world markets. Governmental input into all of this is much smaller than you may think. Big indusrty goes well beyond their limitations. Who are these men and women working seven days a week? --real people, with real families, who have a very important job to do with full support and encouragement from their bosses.

  • Corporate Psycho
    November 03, 2013 - 15:42

    Well said.

  • Stephen  Redgrave
    Stephen Redgrave
    November 03, 2013 - 15:08

    I can't believe you were once a minister of anything. The only thing shallow I see here is your way of thinking. This isn't a deal for you and I--it's a deal for our grandchildren and thier families, to live in a province with sound infrastructure. The cost of doing nothing is a long term disaster. If you had any sense at all about the reality of the situation you'd quit talking while you're ahead (it's too late already) . You insult the great men and women working deven days a week to make sure we get the verey vest deal, and if you knew who was at play here you'd probably feel pretty darn silly (I'm being polite) So glad you and your old school ways are long retired.

    • Tony Rockel
      November 04, 2013 - 00:26

      And who are these "great men and women working seven days a week" to secure this mythical "great deal" for our children and grandchildren? Most of us, including our descendants for the next several generations, will be working seven days a week just to pay for our electricity bills. You obviously haven't a clue about John Collins. The people "at play" here are not fit to hold office or run a bath let alone a corporation.

  • dale noseworthy
    November 03, 2013 - 11:44

    mr collins is full of crap

  • Cyril Rogers
    November 03, 2013 - 08:58

    Joe, it seems, misses the entire point that former Finance Minister, JF Collins, is trying to make..... specifically, that we are acting like total idiots in our attempt to develop a project that has no basis in reality, when it comes to its business sense. We are merely assuaging the pride of NL, as practiced by one Danny Williams, in an effort to leave him a legacy. Some legacy! It will make the Upper Churchill look good! The fundamental message is that this is a financial nightmare that was totally unnecessary.

  • Joe
    November 02, 2013 - 17:58

    You may have been a finance minister but you will never be mistaken for a writer!!

  • Maurice E. Adams
    November 02, 2013 - 15:13

    And we will still be legally bound to provide Nova Scotia with 3 times the power that MF (without a legally binding Water Management Agreement) will be able to produce or we will have to pay damages.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    November 02, 2013 - 09:03

    Guess where the so-called 824 MW of power figure for Muskrat Falls comes from? ----- The manufacturer of the MF generators provide a capacity rating tag on each of the four turbines and each one is rated for 206 MW (hence, the 824 MW total). ...............Of course, the actual power that Muskrat might produce will depend, not on what the turbine is rated for, but on the amount of water that will flow down the river, and that is determined by precipitation amounts and especially, the Water Management Agreement that is before the Quebec courts. ...........Without a legally binding agreement, power from Muskrat (in total) could be LESS THAN about 1/3rd the amount needed to replace Holyrood alone.