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LETTER: Stan Marshall and the boondoggle: too little, too late

Nalcor Energy CEO and president Stan Marshall at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry in St. John’s on Tuesday.
Nalcor Energy CEO and president Stan Marshall at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry in St. John’s. - File photo

I am writing with respect to statements made by Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall and Newfoundland Power CEO Peter Alteen.
In 2016, Marshall acknowledged that the Muskrat Falls project was a boondoggle.

On July 4, 2019, he said that “A Nalcor populated with utility experts would never have approved Muskrat."

In recent testimony to the Muskrat Falls Inquiry, Alteen raised concerns regarding reliability with the closing of the Holyrood Generating Station and the implication of a break on the Labrador Island Link for the provincial economy.

Marshall has also stated that as a consequence of reliability concerns, it will be necessary to keep the Holyrood Generating Station open for a few years.

Nobody with any knowledge of public utility economics or reliability concerns should be surprised with these statements.

When the project was sanctioned in 2012, these matters were well known.

They were certainly known to Fortis and subsidiary Newfoundland Power.

These companies do not suffer from a “lack of utility experts.” On the contrary, Fortis is one of North America’s most profitable energy companies. It has been so for some 40 years.

If Marshall had “boondoggled” Muskrat Falls and Alteen had raised the reliability issue in 2011/12, the project may well have been stopped.

Certainly, it would have provoked an honest debate on the issue and enabled the Public Utilities Board to conclude a proper review of the project. A $14-billion boondoggle would have been avoided.

Why were they silent? Certainly their customers’ interests were not being served.

That is one side. Here is another.

Why did not one member of the House of Assembly from any of the parties, one civil servant or any party with an interest ask Fortis/Newfoundland Power for an opinion on the merits of the project when it was first announced in 2011, approved in 2012?

Astounding negligence by all MHAs in all parties.

Astounding that the media has refused to comment on this, at best, irresponsible negligence.

I note in closing that a Holyrood Generating Station or equivalent (some 400-600 megawatts) of reliable backup power will be required as a permanent feature of our electrical system. That was all that was required in 2011/12. It will be required after 2021.

Marshall and Alteen should explain their earlier silence.

Andy Wells,
St. John’s


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