I wish to comment on Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s full page advertisement in The Weekend Telegram.
First, given the province’s debt situation and Nalcor’s dependence on billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money (and the need for Nalcor to borrow billions more) to fund the construction of Muskrat Falls, I strenuously object to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro using taxpayer and ratepayer dollars to run a sugar-coated full page advertisement disguised as an advisory to the people and most specifically — one telling them that the “power generation system” is now “back to normal.”
To say that the “power generation system on the island is now back to normal” is not only an admission that there was nothing “normal” about the island’s generation system during portions of the recent power outages, but by focusing and suggesting thereby that only the generation system was at fault also prejudices the outcome not only of its own internal review, but prejudices the results of the Public Utility Board’s (and government’s) review.
The PUB is already asking, among other things — “How many times in the period 2004 to 2013 has Hydro been unable to supply the load of the Island Interconnected system due to the unavailability of generation capacity, transmission capacity and terminal station capacity? List each time and identify whether the cause was due to generation or transmission or terminal station capacity problems, weather conditions, planned maintenance, equipment failure or other condition?”
Clearly, the PUB has an open mind and is asking what, if anything (besides generation problems) may have caused or contributed to the cause of the recent outages.
Furthermore, the ad goes on to sugar coat recent events by putting forth the proposition that “… all utilities can encounter problems during the normal course of operations” (emphasis added).
Is Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro now trying to add insult to injury by suggesting that recent events occurred “during the normal course of operations”?
Clearly, paragraph one of the NL Hydro advertisement confirms that the island's power generation system is only now getting “back to normal.”
Was there nothing at all “outside the normal” that led up to what Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is now putting forth as merely a generation system problem? Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro cannot have it both ways.
Of course, given that Muskrat Falls is predicated on the proposition that “we need more power” (more generation capacity), it is easy to see why Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro would use an advertisement not just as a public relations ploy to shift the focus away from other potential causes of this extraordinary event, but by focusing on generation system problems, it can, by suggesting that “we need more power,” further its pet project — Muskrat Falls.
What is driving what seems to me to be this blatant disrespect for objectivity and the truth?
Have government and Nalcor shifted away from a mandate that in the past (and by legislation) focused on the provision of a reliable and lowest possible cost electrical generation and distribution system — to one driven by profit?
If so, then unlike the money spent for this Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro advertisement, if government’s independent review can answer only this one question, it will be money well spent.
Maurice E. Adams