Nalcor Energy president and CEO Stan Marshall is scheduled to make a presentation in the early days of the Muskrat Falls Inquiry.
Inquiry co-counsel Kate O’Brien and Barry Learmonth offered this and other insights into the schedule of witnesses during a meeting with media representatives Tuesday in St. John’s.
Apart from Marshall, the opening days of the inquiry are expected to include a public reveal of the initial report from forensic auditors Grant Thornton, and testimony from Bent Flyvbjerg, the chair of major programme management at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.
Flyvbjerg’s university profile notes him as the most cited scholar in the world on megaproject management. He has published in the journal Energy Policy specifically on hydro projects and has authored papers such as, “Mega Delusional: The Curse of the Megaproject” (2013), wherein he states megaprojects have never been more popular with politicians, “despite such a poor track record” and “repeated failure.”
As with past inquiries in the province, the schedule for witnesses is not exact. The schedule is ultimately at the discretion of Commissioner Richard LeBlanc. However, the rough schedule for witnesses is expected to be made public this week.
The public hearings for the inquiry will begin in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre, on Monday, Sept. 17.
The first phase deals with matters to and including the project’s sanctioning. The hearings, as currently scheduled, will move to St. John’s after two weeks.
The second phase of the inquiry will look at the project’s construction and cost overruns. That will include a separate piece of forensic auditing and report by Grant Thornton.
The third phase will look at potential systemic and policy issues.
More than 100 days of public hearings are scheduled in all as part of the inquiry, before final submissions and the final report from the commissioner, the latter due Dec. 31, 2019.
To date, the inquiry co-counsel said, inquiry lawyers and staff have dealt with more than 2.5 million documents (that’s documents, not pages, with some documents including hundreds of pages). They have also completed interviews with potential witnesses.
“We’ve had very good, excellent I would say, co-operation from all parties,” Learmonth said when asked about the document production on the Nalcor Energy-led project.
The province has budgeted to cover costs of the public inquiry. Updates on spending have been issued quarterly by inquiry staff, and posted to the inquiry website at https://www.muskratfallsinquiry.ca/