01 June 2010

Like we told you: Lower Churchill decision up in the air indefinitely

The nugget of news buried in a front page story in Saturday’s Telegram [not online] turns out to be dead on: there is no timeline to sanction the Lower Churchill.

 Bond Papers reported it on Sunday and in the House of Assembly Premier Danny Williams said the same thing. CBC has the story complete with comments from the scrum after Question Period.

That’s a gigantic change from just a few years ago when the pledge was to sanction the project by 2009, start construction in 2010 and then get it pushing power by 2015.

Williams has been pushing back the timelines on the project since 2007 but Monday marks the first time he has tossed the calendar out the window.

None of this will come as a surprise to BP readers.  The problems with the project, including the lack of markets, are old news around here.

In that context, it’s a bit funny to hear Williams complaining about paying for transmission through Quebec.  That’s something your humble e-scribbler noted as long ago as 2007:

The go-it-alone option now being pursued by Williams means that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro may now have to eat the costs of grid upgrades in Quebec and will certainly bear the cost of the underwater cabling to use the Maritime route. The cheapest estimate for the Maritime route would add an additional $1.5 to $2.0 billion to the project cost.

No word on what all this means for Williams’ personal political future, something he’s linked repeatedly to his continued life in politics.

If the Lower Churchill is off -  indefinitely – then by his own assessment, there’s really nothing holding Williams in politics. 



George said...

..and I would say that the price of 1.5 billion to run a cable under the Gulf is even a little "conservative"...
The simple physics quality of keeping power moving through a wire tells one that there has to be an addition of transformers to help send the power along, much like the coil does to keep a spark to spark plugs in a car, or kep power moving through an electrical grid with the use of transformers on poles or substations. With 99 miles of underwater transmission being talked about, what would be the chances for problems and possible cures if the grid faces an underwater disruption?
Makes the whole Straits run look impracical in the least! The only hope for ANY Lower Churchill project happening is if it is done solely to add to the power requirements of Newfoundland and Labrador, in other words on a much smaller scale and not involving transmission anywhere except our own province.That, or make a deal with Quebec, is the only way and I wouldn't be surprised if Quebec tells us to screw off simply based on the anti-Quebec comments we hear in the media everyday in the first place.
Is it any wonder why Quebec went ahead with their own Romaine projects in the first place?

Ed Hollett said...

No question, George. That price was the original price in the 1970s and 1980s.

As the engineers keep telling me, a run down the spine of Newfoundland and then across the shortest bit of water would still require some sort of generation to give load balancing to be as efficient as possible.

Now if I have that wrong then that's my bad not anyone else's. But since load balancing is what Holyrood is slated to do, I am thinking the run to Nova Scotia is much the same or worse.

Basically a run underwater through the Gulf (and hence through Quebec most likely) would really need that and that's the technical issue. Now DW is right: this isn't an insurmountable problem. They are running power underwater in all sorts of places.

But it is still a significant issue and only serves to increase overall project costs.

The problem is that Danny doesn't have the money. He buggered the whole thing in 2006 with the go-it-alone. That turned off the two biggest investors and best customers on what even then was a costly project.

The provincial government's overspending doesn't improve the overall financial picture. The attacks on private enterprise (the expropriation) have poisoned the investment climate and the recession just beat the hell out of the market for electricity.

His endless and pointless legal battles seem to be more out of frustration than anything else.

The Old Man seemed tired and lacklustre yesterday. I guess the whole thing is getting to him.

Ursula said...

It is the people of this province who are paying for the indulgences of this premier . And yet again, we have Dunderdale reiterating on open-line that Williams does not take a salary . Am I correct in saying that Williams does in fact draw a salary and that it goes to his private charity ?

Ed Hollett said...

Yes Ursula, you are correct. This is one of the great myths that was only exploded a couple of years ago when Jerome! was finance minister.

He receives every penny of his salary, in full. He then directs it, as far as I know to his family charity.

He had an option of reducing the salary to a single dollar such that he would genuinely not take a salary.

Instead he opted for this approach.

Wm. Murphy said...

He had an option of reducing the salary to a single dollar such that he would genuinely not take a salary.

are you sure about that??

Where's the proof on that assertion?

Ed Hollett said...

Are you sure you want to ask whether or not the government party can set government salaries?

WJM said...

Where's the proof on that assertion?

The legislature in Newfoundland and Labrador is paramount in this jurisdiction

The Word of Our Dan

Ed Hollett said...

I guess he really didn't want to ask that question, Wally.