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Quebec Court of Appeal rules in favour of Newfoundland and Labrador

Joseph R. Smallwood at the Churchill River, circa the 1960s. — Telegram file photo
Joseph R. Smallwood at the Churchill River, circa the 1960s. — Telegram file photo - SaltWire Network

Ruling on Churchill River water management is good news for the province: premier

A decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal has settled the question of water management on the Churchill River in favour of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“It’s good news for the province,” said Premier Dwight Ball.

The unanimous decision lays out that Hydro Quebec “does not have the exclusive right to purchase, and receive, all the energy produced by the Upper Churchill Power Plant,” but rather that Churchill Falls (Labrador) Company (CF(L)Co) can sell energy produced above a certain threshold.

In essence, the province now has more ability to sell excess electricity produced at Churchill Falls, while maintaining the rights to water flowing down the river, into the Muskrat Falls reservoir.

Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall says Nalcor needs time to review the decision.

“We are pleased with the decision made by the Quebec Court of Appeal,” said Marshall.

“The decision issued today is complex and the company will need some time to complete a comprehensive review of the judgment and its financial and operational impacts. We will continue to work cooperatively with Hydro Quebec to implement the court decision.”

It’s unknown what the potential revenue could be for Newfoundland and Labrador as a result of the decision.

Ball says the decision clears up concern over who manages the water flowing downstream from Churchill Falls into Muskrat Falls.

“We now know that we, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, that CF(L)Co now will be able to manage the water way. This decision today gives CF(L)Co the rights to manage water on the Upper Churchill, therefore not having a negative impact on Muskrat Falls,” said Ball.

“I’m very relieved, I will say.”

Hydro Quebec can still purchase the majority of electricity from Churchill Falls until 2041, when the 1969 agreement between this province and Quebec expires. The deal has seen almost $28 billion flow to Quebec, while just $2 billion has gone to Newfoundland and Labrador since the original agreement was signed.

Concerns over the court case relating to the water management on the Churchill River caused the Muskrat Falls Inquiry to go out of its way to keep testimony related to the agreement out of public view, until the decision was made.

Twitter: DavidMaherNL


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