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LETTER: Nalcor never fails to mystify

Nalcor Headquarters in St. John’s. — Telegram file
Nalcor Headquarters in St. John’s. — Telegram file - SaltWire Network

The following matters have been conveniently omitted from hitherto discussions on the rate mitigation plan which will add substantially to the costs that must be included in any honest estimation of what Muskrat Falls costs will mean to the people of this province.

• The Labrador Island Link (LIL) has a 900 megawatt capacity.

• 824 MW is to be provided by Muskrat Falls.

• Nalcor has stated (in PB-32-2018) that 76 MW of no cost Churchill Falls recall power was assumed for 50 years to fill the LIL to capacity (Muskrat Falls 824 MW plus 76 MW recall.)

• This 76 MW comes from a 300 MW block of free Churchill Falls power that was used for economic development in Labrador

• The public was not informed of the use of this free 76 MW recall for Muskrat Falls costing purposes.

• Increased mining activity in Labrador will eliminate the availability of this 76 MW block of power for the LIL.

A number of questions immediately arise:

Why was the public not informed about the use of this now non-existing power for costing purposes?

Will Nalcor now have to purchase power from Hydro-Québec in the winter peak period when it will be needed to fill the LIL to its 900 MW capacity?

Will this result in lost export sales at peak high value times?

What will be the increased costs associated with this deficiency in LIL capacity and lost export sales?

What will these increased costs mean for proposed rate mitigation measures?

These questions were put to Nalcor in an access to information request.

In a response, Nalcor has stated “Please be advised that Nalcor has completed no analysis on this issue in light of the restart of the Wabush Mine or the Kami Mine. Therefore, there are no records responsive to your request.”

This is another indication of the incomprehensible nature of Nalcor. We were told in 2011 that Nalcor had a 300 MW block of power available via the Maritime Link in the event of a prolonged outage on the LIL. This has disappeared because “the system and the way it operated has changed.”

We were not told that there is no transmission capacity to take any additional power to the Avalon Peninsula in the event of an outage on the LIL.

Nalcor has stated “that as a consequence of the lack of capacity, load shedding would be required to ensure stable system operation. The matter of additional capacity is under study with a report to be submitted to PUB in (the second quarter of) 2019.”

This means rolling blackouts.

And now we find that the 76 MW of free power for 50 years has also disappeared.

And Nalcor has offered no explanation for these serious deficiencies in system reliability and has not attempted to document the associated costs in any mitigation plan.

And $14 billion has been spent.

Andy Wells

St. John’s

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