Hydroelectric power and ecosystem damage

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The completion of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project poses a danger that has not been sufficiently emphasized. This danger comes with the establishment of a transmission link between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

The danger is that, with this link in place, there will be even greater incentive to construct hydroelectric projects both in Labrador and on the island.

Newfoundland and Labrador will then have an easy way to transmit energy to markets on the mainland. This may sound to some like a great boon for the province, another avenue for prosperity.

Certainly those who are keen to see the Muskrat Falls project succeed will respond to the prospect of even more profit with much enthusiasm and clapping of hands.

But for many of us who think that the flooding and destruction of ecosystems for the purpose of energy production is wrong-headed, this project is foreboding. Destroying ecosystems in Newfoundland and Labrador to produce energy will likely be a more common practice once the transmission link to Nova Scotia is complete. Let this be one more reason to oppose the Muskrat Falls project. The development of new ways to reduce energy consumption should be our priority.

Aaron O’Brien

Cape Broyle

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • John in Whitbourne
    September 20, 2012 - 23:50

    Arguments against the Lower Churchill Power project universally ignore the basic requirement for the Labrador to Nova Scotia transmission link. It is certain that a link will be necessary in the year 2041 at the expiration of the current Hydro Quebec contract. There is no chance that Quebec or Canada will change their policies to deal honestly with Newfoundland and Labrador. The proposed link will come into service about 2018 and will transfer power from two new dams (2,800 MW) from 2018 until 2041. This also affects the viability of other options for this province in the interim twenty three year period. A replacement for the current Holyrood power station must be provided and the capital cost of constructing the new plant and all conversion costs must be amortized over a period ending in 2041 because the Holyrood generating capacity will be redundant at that point. This will increase the cost charged for electricity up to 2041 as the payments for the borrowed capital increase by more than five percent. In the interim period, the line will provide route diversity which could be sold to Hydro Quebec in the event of a shortage of transmission capacity, as they officially claimed in sworn testimony before their regulator. Hydro Quebec may someday decide to purchase capacity on the link if it is cheaper (or faster) than building new capacity. They are after all, a profit making enterprise. Their role as a political tool is only useful as long as that use is free of charge to the province. As 2041 approaches, the profitability of Hydro Quebec will be increasingly questionable as the loss of $2Billion in profit from the Upper Churchill approaches and that pressure could make the Maritime link attractive to them as they seek to minimize their costs. The real cost of the link is the difference of the cost to build it now and the cost to build it about 2036 less any profit made from selling capacity to Hydro Quebec and the internal profit made from transmitting Lower Churchill Power. That is the difference between the present values of the two options. That calculation would require a number of assumptions which can be 'adjusted' to prove either side of the argument. These include the cost of capital over twenty-three years and the selection of a GDP inflator to represent the costs of construction in twenty-three years. The old saying "You can pay me now or pay me later." applies. Building the project now allows us to produce and sell 2,800 MW for twenty-three additional years.

  • H JEFFORD
    September 20, 2012 - 20:43

    Holyrood oil fired generating plant is in the top ten air Poluters in the world its burning millions of barrels of fuel per year, the tar coming from the stacks when running is doing damage to the paint on cars in Seal Cove Conception Bay South and people living in CBS & Holyrood is breeding this in, the smoke coming out of the stacks can be seen for miles, Muskrat falls is the cleanest safest and when built the cheapest supply of power in the world, The mighty Churchill Falls river which ran for millions of years at no cost , will produce clean safe power for Millions of years more, To harness the Muskrat falls will supply a steady cheap and clean supply of Power "as the old saying Goes" For as long as water runs and Grass Grows" Without burning a drop of oil,The cost of oil will increase but the Mighty Churchill which ran for millions of years will run for millions more

  • David
    September 19, 2012 - 09:40

    Muskrat Fallls is dumb, but for genuine reasons, not 'made up' ones. Let's all commit suicide and cleanse the Earth of it's problems. Everything people do is harmful...every single thing. So put your eco-money where your eco-mouth is and do your little bit to save the planet!

  • Winston Adams
    September 19, 2012 - 09:18

    Eli, my Prius hybrid is now almost 6 years old. I average 60 miles per gallon and uses about 18-20 dollars a week for gas . Problems and expenses? Besides oil and filter changes, I have spent 15 dollars on wiper blade refils. 3 years ago i bought front brake pads as I had a little squeal, but it disappeared. Still haven't needed to replace them . Now at 110,000 km. With regenerative braking it not only improves efficiency but extends brake life.I am so pleased with this vehicle that I have now started to use synthetic oil, as it will reduce engine wear and adds some to car efficiency. Now John Smith says he's all for conservation. I wonder what is Hybrid experience is? Or is John actually against conservation and energy efficiency? And where's the plan to promote electric cars, like the 8000.00 rebate offered by other provinces?

  • Maurice E. Adams
    September 19, 2012 - 08:45

    Yes, Muskrat Falls is the ultimate Climate Change Project JOHN --- all $8.5 billion of it --- paid for, lock, stock and barrel by island ratepayers. A totally 'public sector', ratepayer paid for project that targets an 8% emitter (Holyrood), while our largest, private sector greenhouse gas emitters (the province's 'Transportation' and 'Large Industry' sectors) account for 73% of the province's emissions and whose emissions will continue to increase. Some project, some plan. Muskrat Falls is an $8.5 billion dollar climate change project designed to shift the cost from the large emitters (industry, private sector) to the general public/ratepayers. See www.vision2041.com

  • Eli
    September 19, 2012 - 08:43

    Money comes to mind John. I take it you drive a hybrid? What!, you don't own a car?

  • Winston Adams
    September 19, 2012 - 08:39

    John Smith, what's your view of the government committment to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2020. This can be done through energy efficiency for our heating. But it is in conflict with the case for Muskrat based on a increased demand. The two plans are in conflict. If you argue for Muskrat then surely you must oppose the committment to the USA governors and Atlantic provinces that we will reduce energy use by 20 percent. Wasn't this a written committment? And what does that say about credability?

  • John Smith
    September 19, 2012 - 08:18

    So...you think it's better to have little children, and the elderly breath in the air that results from the fifth worst polluter in Canada. people can't put their clothes on the line, or have a car not covered in acidic soot the day after they wash it? All forms of power generation have their inherent risks but burning oil, coal or gas pollute the air we breath. Hydro is one of the cleanest answers to our coming energy needs, and anyone who considers themself an enviromentalist should applaud the Muskrat falls project.