Who will stop the Muskrat madness?

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Ratepayers have long heard that between now and 2041 Newfoundland and Labrador will need, on average, 40 per cent of Muskrat Falls energy, or about two billion kilowatt hours (KWh)  per year (about twice as much as what we now need from Holyrood — which is projected to cost more than $200 million a year in fuel alone).

To provide that two billion KWh per year energy and to eliminate that $200 million a year in fuel costs, Nalcor is building a dam and a generating plant at Muskrat Falls that, for the next 50 years will cost NL ratepayers about $500 million per year, about $25,000 million over 50 years (not including transmission line costs) — Nalcor’s slide No. 34 of its 2011 media at, which can be found online   www.vision2041.com).

However, last year Hydro-Québec received only three cents per KWh for its export sales.

So, even if we paid Hydro-Québec five cents per KWh for 25 years (up to 2041) for the two billion KWh per year of energy that Nalcor says we need, that would cost us about $100 million per year for 25 years (half of Holyrood’s yearly fuel costs and 10 times less than Muskrat’s 50-year, locked-in, average $500 million yearly costs).

In either case, whether we purchased power from Hydro-Québec or generated power at Muskrat Falls, transmission costs would be about the same.

Nalcor (and government) has, over and over again, touted their much ballyhooed and so-called

$2-billion least-cost advantage of its Muskrat Falls option.

But given cost overruns, uncertainties associated with the water management agreement, risks associated with the North Spur, and given NL Hydro’s legal obligation to provide ratepayers with the lowest possible cost power, there is clearly (not a $2 billion), but a $20 billion (20,000 million) least-cost advantage of purchasing our 25-year power needs from Hydro-Québec.

And, unlike Muskrat Falls, a power purchase from Hydro-Québec does not lock ratepayers into sky-high cost power for 50 years (25 years past 2041).

And unlike Muskrat Falls, a 25-year power purchase from Hydro-Québec does not negate the long-awaited (and looming) 2041 benefit of near-zero cost Upper Churchill power.

The facts are clear.

It is time for politicians to speak up, to put a stop to the construction of this Muskrat Madness dam and generation plant.

The province should instead be laying the foundation for our debt reduction, for expediting the long-awaited benefit of near-zero cost Upper Churchill power (which otherwise will be wiped out unless the 50-year, locked-in Muskrat Falls dam and generation plant is halted).

Is there — out there somewhere — one fighting Newfoundland and Labrador politician who will stand up and demand that a stop be put to this madness that is Muskrat Falls?

Who among us can afford to throw away 20,000 million of our (and our children’s and our grandchildren’s) hard earned dollars?

Who among us wants to see the long-awaited benefit of near-zero cost Upper Churchill power negated by Muskrat Madness?

How many hospitals, how many bridges can be built? How many kilometres of highway can be paved for 20,000 million dollars?  

And who will speak “truth to power”?

Maurice E. Adams writes from Paradise.

Organizations: Hydro-Québec

Geographic location: Muskrat, Holyrood, Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • paul
    August 24, 2014 - 17:59

    The solution is costly but simple. We need to build transmission lines from the Upper Churchill generation plant all the way down to the Muskrat station. In 2041 HQ will no longer buy power from NFLD...Meaning 5000 MW of electricity from UC will be coming to NFLD. That is what is going on.

  • Roy
    August 22, 2014 - 11:59

    Judging by the poor level of response, I think the answer to the question is "No one".

  • get on the bandwagon
    August 21, 2014 - 20:32

    Mr. Adams you are correct -this project was never about the least cost or a business case for electricity. This project has been uneconomical from the start and it has been obvious to anyone willing to be objective about the facts related to the project. Unfortunately our government has deprived the people of any objective review or regulation of the project and imposed a cone of silence and secrecy. Isn't the government supposed to be a public institution - open, transparent and accountable. Until public policy changes and this project is opened to public scurtiny it will continue to expend tremendous financial resources which will not result in any feasible outcome for ratepayers and taxpayers - this is but another huge political fiasco - it will prove to be the biggest boondoogle ever in our history. Unlike the upper churchill which was an enormous lost opportunity we will have to pay out of pocket for this one for at least a couple of generations. yes it should be stopped but we do not have anyone with the leadership to deal with this mess and most of the population is not apprised of the reality of this project - yet. The sooner that reality hits home the better!

  • Corporate Psycho
    August 21, 2014 - 16:42

    It will be up to Dwight Ball. He won't stop the project now.

  • Nichol
    August 21, 2014 - 12:08

    I too have been looking for the 'someone ' among us to stop this madness. We all should know that Muskrat Falls will be the biggest white elephant ever, clearly based on wild unabated political ambition. 'Build around Quebec ' was the mantra. When wholesale electricity prices were declining, Nalcor took no notice. Correctly, you point out the average price realized for export power by Quebec last year was 3 cents/KWh. The wholesale spot price paid in New England for today, Aug. 21, is 3.43 cents/KWh (source EIA). It is interesting that 60% of Muskrat Falls capacity will depend on these market prices. The revenues from the other 40% which is the amount we will use to replace Holyrood, will have to carry the whole project. No responsible entity ignores 60% of its production potential, which is what Nalcor is doing....no revenue from the 20% to NS for building the link, and very much losing prices on the wholesale markets for the 40% export block. The great lie of the project, 'the least cost option', could not be further from the truth. It was the least cost of the only two options allowed to be considered. Our Government is blind to the facts. They have milked all the elections they can from this folly, and will be destroyed at the polls in 2015. We are left with the debt and no compete legislation smugly passed by this Government in favour of Nalcor. I suggest the Nalcor execs are much more concerned with their completion bonuses than they are for our future. We need to stop this project in its tracks....now. Every day counts. Quebec is canceling phase 3 and 4 of the Romaine project due to depressed prices. There are huge surpluses of electricity available today. Where is the person to do it? Buying from Quebec would save the millions you point out. 2041 is only 27 years away, yet we are obligated to pay for MF for 25 years after that. Are we really too late to stop this madness? Where are all the main proponents today?....Williams, Dunderdale, Kennedy, et al, will all go down in history as the egotistical, foolish opportunists that they are. The 'Cuckoo's Nest' has nothing on NL politics.....to wit, hockey stick factories, chocolate factories, the great paper mills, the giant petrochemical complexes, the cucumber foray, buffalo, and yes even the boot plant ....gone! And now we put $8 or $9 billion into generating power for all the vapourware demand we have! God help us.