I, like most Newfoundlanders, have become extremely frustrated with power issues in our province recently, and especially with the monster that is Nalcor.
Yes, the one that creeps into your house on a cold winter night and turns off the heat, and turns off the stove when you’re cooking and the lights when you’re reading.
Some of us, to use Nalcor’s phrasing, “saw this coming” and now it’s time to speak up about it. Nalcor, in my opinion, has become a bloated, over-paid organization which has lost focus of its primary responsibility — which is to supply its customers with electrical power.
Instead, and with government’s support, it has decided to focus on oil and gas exploration, which it failed at; seismic exploration, with nothing to show for it; and the pursuit of legal challenges in Quebec where it is batting zero with more lost cases yet to come. These are the ruses they employ to perpetuate their existence.
Yet they can’t even supply us with a reliable source of power when we need it most.
All these blackouts and rolling blackouts we’ve been having are mostly the result of human incompetence — i.e. Nalcor management.
Apparently, they couldn’t predict that, as the economy and housing expanded, there would be a greater demand on the power system. Oh, apparently they couldn’t foresee that winter comes to Newfoundland and Labrador as well. Most of the public attention Nalcor receives has obviously been surrounding Muskrat Falls, and when anyone questions that, the response is: well, they are world-class experts, so why should we doubt them?
In fact, they are obviously not world-class experts, although they get paid like ones, but instead are operating a Third World utility.
The one area where they do shine, however, is spending taxpayers’ money. Their mantra over the past few years has been; “Hey Danny\Kathy, we need a few more hundred million dollars, can you send it to us?” And the response has been, “No problem, you’re the tail that’s wagging the dog, so we’ll send it over right away.”
Government now wants to meet with Nalcor to see what has gone wrong with power generation on the island. That’s a good idea, but it came a bit too late, because the horse has already left the stable, at least for this year. Nalcor is a Crown corporation; in other words, it’s ours.
Yet our auditor general does not audit or examine its operations. Well, I believe this should change. Ontario audited its Hydro corporation recently and found misspending and corruption. I’m not suggesting at all that there are illegitimate practices at Nalcor, but we should be allowed to have a look and see for ourselves. There is certainly incompetence and overspending that needs to be addressed.
This bloated organization needs to be reined in and a review of its exorbitant salary structure and bureaucracy completed. Their salaries are way out of whack with other government operations and the AG needs to shine a light on it.
A refocusing of the corporation’s primary function needs to be initiated, and to that end Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro should become once again the lead entity, with Nalcor as one of its branch companies, not the other way around as is the case now.
I can’t comment on the feasibility of Muskrat Falls, and it’s a go anyway — but I do know that the recent execution of duties at Nalcor is abysmal, and that’s scary.