I am writing in response to Russell Wangersky’s column on Sept. 1, “Muskrat Falls will eventually be our only option.”
Mr. Wangersky implies that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is not adequately planning to address our province’s current and future electricity needs.
This is inaccurate and misleading to the people of this province. On the contrary, Hydro has been engaged in comprehensive, long-term planning for many years and our focus on future planning is driven by our commitment to provide a safe, reliable and least-cost supply of power to our customers.
Our provincial electricity system is aging, with much of this infrastructure built in the 1960s and ’70s at a time when electricity use in the province was rapidly increasing.
With some of this key infrastructure reaching the end of its useful service life, strategic long-term planning and capital investments are essential to continue providing a secure power supply.
Investments in the electricity system are made in a strategic manner following our annual, five-year and 20-year capital plans. These plans facilitate long-term planning to ensure a continued supply of safe, reliable electricity well into the future.
Our planning follows internationally accepted best practices for generation and transmission infrastructure, which determines the timing of replacements and upgrades.
Hydro’s five and 20-year capital plans are reviewed and updated annually as new information becomes available regarding our infrastructure
and future load demands. What Mr. Wangersky’s column failed to recognize is that these strategies are about doing the right work, at the right time, for the right reasons.
Through our ongoing planning process Hydro continually evaluates the condition of the electricity assets. This determines the right time to replace assets to maintain their reliability and keep operating costs down.
The gas generators at Hardwoods and Stephenville are examples where our engineers decided that replacement of these units was not necessary at their normal end of life based on an assessment of their condition, supply of parts and manufacturer support.
In the past five years, Hydro has invested more than $300 million in our provincial electricity system and we expect to invest an additional $75 million annually for the next 20 years to maintain electricity assets across the province.
These are significant investments driven by a requirement to upgrade, repair and replace aging components of the province’s electricity infrastructure, as well as needed additions in generation and transmission infrastructure to meet future electricity demand and load growth.
These investments are usually independent of decisions on future generation supply options such as Muskrat Falls.
However, where they are affected by future generation supply options, care is taken that both a reliable, low-cost supply is maintained in the short term and the longer-term costs of supply options, including Muskrat Falls, are not significantly impacted by these short-term decisions.
Our long-term supply planning and investments are driven by evaluating all available options to ensure we have safe, reliable generation and transmission infrastructure in place to continue providing least-cost, reliable electricity to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. This evaluation includes the possibility that the hydroelectric facility at Muskrat Falls will soon be sanctioned.
Are all of our eggs in one Muskrat Falls basket, as Mr. Wangersky suggests?
But as the largest power utility and the primary generator of power in the province, it would be reckless to dismiss the possibility of such a significant energy resource when planning for our province’s future electricity demands.
People expect their electricity system to be reliable now, and in 10 and 20 years from now.
Hydro is committed to delivering exceptional service to our customers and taking carefully planned, prudent actions to make sure that the lights come on and remain on when consumers want it.
The hard-working people at Hydro have done considerable work to ensure we provide Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with safe, reliable power in an affordable and environmentally sustainable way, today and in the future, and will continue this work for the long-term benefit of our customers.
Jim Haynes is vice-president, regulated
operations, with Newfoundland and