This month, I had the pleasure of visiting Labrador with a group of 18 executive women, including a tour of the Churchill Falls hydro plant. It was a trip we planned to get a better understanding of the vast opportunities in Labrador.
As an active business person striving to be well informed, and as a past chair on Nalcor’s board of directors, I already knew the plant remains the second biggest underground hydro facility in the world.
But seeing the plant with a group of new people was an incredible experience and made me proud to know Newfoundlanders and Labradorians built it and continue to operate and manage it today.
The women from other parts of Atlantic Canada were also impressed. Impressed with the magnitude of what we had achieved and with the opportunity knocking on our door today — Muskrat Falls.
We have a chance to influence our future direction by making a bold move.
And while no megaproject comes without some degree of risk, I believe we are well-equipped and experienced to manage those risks.
Building and managing megaprojects is what we do.
We built Churchill Falls and we keep it running today.
We built and managed Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova.
Now we have the opportunity to build Muskrat Falls.
We need to have confidence in ourselves and our ability to succeed. Hydro is not new to Newfoundland and Labrador.
We have been in the hydro business longer than we have been in the oil business.
Muskrat Falls is a complex interweaving of multi-business cases, but that doesn't mean it’s wrong.
It means we need to fully understand why the business case works now and for future opportunities we know of and for others that will appear.
And then we need continue to manage the project in a world-class way.
Rooted in past mistakes
As I stood on the ground in Churchill Falls, I reflected that its story, too often, shackles us to the past.
Instead, it should enable and empower us to feel more accountable to get things right.
It should remind us of what we have accomplished in the past, what we’ve learned and what we can do in the future.
The development of Muskrat Falls will not burden our children with debt. It will give them a valuable asset with predictable clean energy.
Muskrat Falls gives us an opportunity that so many provinces, states and countries only dream of — the chance to know for 50 years that we have secured power for our people and our existing and future industries.
Muskrat Falls gives us the chance to build a revenue stream which will strengthen our province, especially Labrador; instead of paying others for our power we will be paying ourselves.
Whether at the negotiating table or the kitchen table, it gives us a chance to change the way the world sees us and the way we see ourselves.
Cathy Bennett is CEO of the Bennett Group of Companies.