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BRIAN JONES: Rate mitigation, rat mitigation

Without rate mitigation, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro projects power rates would reach 22.89 cents per kWh by 2021, up from the current average rate of 12.26 cents.
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Keep this in mind during the electioneering that will continue until Newfoundlanders go to the polls sometime this year to select another dud administration: every dollar spent on “rate mitigation” is a dollar that could have been spent on something else, something constructive, something Newfoundlanders actually need.

Also keep in mind that “rate mitigation” is a euphemism. It is bafflegab. It is proof that Orwellian newspeak is still practiced by politicians almost three-quarters of a century after George coined the term.

There are several definitions of “rate mitigation” in “The Dictionary of Newfoundland Euphemisms”: 1. Money the government or Opposition, if elected, will spend to try to correct a horrendous mistake; 2. Money the government or Opposition says it will divert from other needs in order to get elected; 3. A phrase employed by politicians to convince the citizenry that a massive financial disaster can be rendered painless.

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie announced his rate-mitigation plan this week in an attempt to beat the Liberals to it.

Ches’s chipping away at the impending explosion in ratepayers’ bills was unconvincing.

Never mind the cheesy moniker: Crosbie Hydro Energy Action Plan (CHEAP).

Crosbie told reporters Monday CHEAP relies on the Public Utility Board’s estimation that it would cost $575 million per year to help residents pay 14 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity rather than 22 cents per kilowatt hour.

To prevent your electricity bill from doubling because of Danny’s dam — which, it must be remembered, was overwhelmingly supported by the public — the provincial government will have to expend $575 million in subsidies for ratepayers, money that could otherwise have gone toward schools, hospitals, a 21st-century prison rather than a 19th-century one, education (tuition; scholarships; a law school!), roads, still more tourism ads and so on. You know, things that would actually benefit society.

Ches’s fishing for votes is a failure, as it must be, and as the Liberals’ “rate-mitigation” plan must also be, whenever they announce it. It’s all money from the same pot. Ultimately, you will pay.

Crosbie would have you believe CHEAP is a triumph. It is not. Any “rate-mitigation” plan is a reminder of the failure of governance. Far better if Crosbie simply declared, “We have kicked out all the sitting Tory MHAs who voted for Muskrat Falls.”

CHEAP is a cheap trick, merely more of the manipulation Newfoundlanders have come to know and love. The $123 million in “diverted revenues” from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and the $231 million from Nalcor Oil and Gas revenues, is not new money. It is money that the government, had it so chosen, could have put to other uses (see above).

As for the $150 million that will accrue by closing the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station, observers far more knowledgeable than this humble correspondent have suggested such a closure would be flirting with freezing, because a days-long or even weeks-long power outage is inevitable when electricity is being pumped along a 1,100-kilometre power line … through mountains, during ice storms, in winter winds. Start shopping for a woodstove if you don’t already have one.

Ches’s fishing for votes is a failure, as it must be, and as the Liberals’ “rate-mitigation” plan must also be, whenever they announce it. It’s all money from the same pot.

Ultimately, you will pay.

Meanwhile, the burghers in St. John’s are concerned about rat mitigation. The city of legendary rodents has an infestation problem.

Coun. Ian Froude wants to limit the number of bird feeders residents can put out, because seeds and whatnot inevitably fall to the ground and provide sustenance for rats.

It’s a rational first step, even though feather fanciers will squawk. The battle against rats and mice starts with depriving them of food. Next, ply them with plenty of poison. Use the good stuff. Make your property a Raymonds for rodents. They will feast, and die.

But wait. The provincial government, typically, has made it illegal for residents to buy the good stuff — block poison for warfarin-resistant rats. Oh well. Enjoy your rates and rats.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at brian.jones@thetelegram.com.

Related stories:

Ches Crosbie tables power rate mitigation on the CHEAP

St. John’s councillor suggests limiting bird feeders to address rat problems

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