If you thought January’s power bill was bad …

Published on March 7, 2014

Many consumers in Newfoundland were shocked at the recent surge in their hydro bills in December and January. Please consider these points as we look to the near future when Muskrat power comes on stream.

• The Public Utilities Board (our only protection against being charged unreasonably high rates) will have no say when it comes to increased rates involving Muskrat power. The huge bill (billions of dollars) will have to be paid each month to the financial institutions.

These institutions were so glad to lend us such large sums not because of the soundness of the Muskrat project, but because they know ratepayers (us) are locked into repayment, and as further assurance, the federal government backs up the loan with their ironclad guarantee. We are being sold on the idea that they liked the project so much that they were glad to lend us the money. What a pile of hooey (or as we like to say, “a bunch of crap”). They liked the guaranteed interest rates — the viability of the project did not matter in the least to them. That is the truth of the matter.

• If you remember some of the discussion in Nova Scotia last fall, their government and its utilities board wanted protection against high rates for their consumers. Contrast this with our government’s stand in removing our only source of protection. In other words, “the consumer be damned” — their primary objective was to ensure the financing of the most expensive hydroelectricity on the planet.

• There may be a ray of hope for

us defenseless consumers. We can demand of all political parties (we will have an election soon, remember) that the revenue accruing from sales of Muskrat power to other parties must be used to ensure that our electric bills will not go through the roof when this shockingly expensive power comes on stream. That, to me, is our only hope for ensuring that many will be able to pay their future hydro bills without having to choose between staying warm or getting proper food.

Remember, Nalcor and the provincial government have no idea of the ultimate bottom-line cost of this project when we consider the inevitable cost overruns (just check out the shocking cost overruns of recent Manitoba hydro projects). It should be noted here (and I may be wrong) that one of our political parties has already committed to doing the above with the proceeds of the sale of “surplus” power.

By the way, the cost of two extra hydro power lines (one in Labrador and the other from central Newfoundland to the Avalon, which is sorely needed) will be over $600 million — who pays for this, I wonder? Talk about the extra costs that have been downplayed by  Nalcor and this  government!

Charlie Menchions

Sandy Cove, Eastport Peninsula