08 February 2005

Power corridor through Quebec?

Wait until Wednesday and you can get The Independent for free from its website.

When you do get it, or if you plunked down the buck already, check the front page story by Jeff Ducharme about the idea of forcing Quebec to let Newfoundland and Labrador build a power corridor through Quebec to let this province get its Labrador hydroelectric power to market.

Talk about living in the past, Jeff.

The idea of building power pylons through Quebec is old hat. As long as the existing grid has the physical capacity to carry the load, the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro could wheel power across the existing lines. The link is to a United States Department of Energy website on the American electrical power system. It makes for fascinating reading; amazing thing the Internet.

This site makes for curious reading when you hear people - like Premier Williams - talking about building a single Canadian grid that runs from St. John's to Vancouver. Let's not kid ourselves: he talks about a Canadian grid as a way of getting federal money to put his Stunnel or something like it across the Strait of Belle Isle. It isn't about developing a great national project for Canada.

It is pretty clear from the DOE website that the existing North American power grid is divided into clearly defined zones that cross the border into Canada. Quebec is a separate system that includes Labrador. Newfoundland is, of course, an island and hence isn't part of the system. (Seems like an obvious point, but apparently not for some people.) The Maritimes is wired into the Eastern Interconnected Network through Maine in a system that stretches down to Florida. The so-called Anglo-Saxon route would wire us directly to that one, incidentally, albeit at a huge and likely non-viable cost. Non-viable, that is, without massive government subsidy.

The main thrust of Jeff's piece though is putting John Efford offside with local nationalists. The headline "No way" refers to John's refusal to force a power corridor through Quebec. Jeff makes a nice contribution to the "Whack John" sport that has grown up here lately, but it doesn't do much more than that...

except give us the following lessons:

1. The Indy is stuck hopelessly in the past. They might want to find a new researcher. I suspect though that they find it more useful to recycle nationalist mythology and maybe even invent some new mythology rather than deal in the here and now. If it sells papers, then they are succeeding. Why else would there be this power corridor nonsense on page one and inside a column by Ivan Morgan praising Danny Williams? Let me look again, there might be yet another column that mentions Margaret Wente and points out she was wrong. Nope. Not wrong, but there's Ryan Cleary's editorial taking Wente out of context so he can claim she too praises Danny.

Wow. Talk about getting predictable! Why isn't there a piece from Bill Rowe heaping mounds of praise of his employer? Sheesh, I should have just turned the page. Poof! There's Bill, large as life. Well, the paper is locally owned - another point made over and over - as if that affects the quality of the reporting.

2. John Efford is not up-to-speed on all his briefing books. The logical answer to a question about power corridors is not whether you would or you wouldn't force one but, "Why, Jeff, are you asking me an outdated question?" What John has done in this interview is give his political enemies yet more ammunition to use against him. Atta boy John.