24 February 2009

NALCO: the power of confusion

A sample of the conflicting policy statements on the Lower Churchill, Holyrood diesel generating plant and the rationale for slinging hydro lines on 43 metre tall towers in a UNESCO World heritage site.

A.  Premier Danny Williams:

"The reason that those lines are actually going through that park and the existing transmission corridor is to take out the dirty emissions that are coming from the Seal Cove-Holyrood plant," said Williams, referring to an oil-burning generating plant in eastern Newfoundland. [CBC story, 24 Feb 09]

B.  NALCO environmental impact submission on the hydro line project (2009):

A key purpose and rationale for the proposed Labrador – Island Transmission Link is to put in place infrastructure to further interconnect Newfoundland and Labrador with the North American electricity system and thus, set the stage for further development and growth in the province’s energy sector and overall economy.

It will also play an important part in ongoing efforts toward securing adequate, reliable and sustainable electricity supply for Newfoundland and Labrador, to address the current and future needs of the province’s residents and industries. [Page ii. Punctuation, capitalisation and italics in original] [Bold added]

A key rationale for the project is to put in place infrastructure to further interconnect the province with the North American electricity system, in order to facilitate the future import and export of electricity between mainland North America and Newfoundland and Labrador, and thus, help set the stage for further development and growth in the province’s energy sector….[Page 1] [Bold added]

Similar phrasing appears repeatedly throughout the document’s 199 pages.  Holyrood does not appear as any part of the rationale until page 8. The energy plan makes reference to the Holyrood displacement, but NALCO’s proposal downplays the Holyrood issue in favour of the general development of interconnection “to facilitate the future import and export” of electrical power from the province.

C.  NALCO 20 year capital plan (2008) on the role of Holyrood:

It is important to consider that whichever expansion scenario occurs, an isolated Island electrical system or interconnected to the Lower Churchill via HVDC link, Holyrood will be an integral and vital component of the electrical system for decades to come. In the isolated case Holyrood will continue to be a generating station; in the interconnected scenario its three generating units will operate as synchronous condensers, providing system stability, inertia and voltage control.

Holyrood will not close. The plant will continue to operate under NALCO’s 20 year capital plan with or without the infeed from Labrador. This is in direction opposition to the province’s energy plan released the year before.

D.  The energy plan (2007) commitment on Holyrood:

In the long-term, the current level of emissions from the Holyrood facility is unacceptable. The Provincial Government, through NLH, has investigated the long-term options to address Holyrood emissions and decided to replace Holyrood generation with electricity from the Lower Churchill through a transmission link to the Island. This replacement provides an excellent opportunity to partner with the Federal Government to reduce GHG emissions.

The energy plan envisages the export of wind-generated electricity from the Island.  The infeed environmental document indicates that wind generation is being capped at 88 megawatts because of problems with grid stability.