Who will stop the Muskrat madness?

Published on August 21, 2014

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.