21 February 2009

Williams lends credence to other expropriation theory

The Premier may have been trying to deflect one set of questions about the expropriation of AbitibiBowater’s hydroelectric assets when he told reporters:

Williams explained that the province didn't need the power from the Exploits River in order to accommodate the Long Harbour plant. He said 70 megawatts were freed up when the Stephenville paper mill closed, and an additional 54 megawatts of wind power has also been added to the grid.

In the process, though he just leaves hanging the question of why he bothered to expropriate the hydro assets in the first place including Star Lake, a site that wasn’t feeding power to the ABH paper mill at Grand Falls.

If NALCO didn’t need the assets and the assets weren’t going anywhere and the only thing they could do is generate electricity, why exactly was the provincial government in such a rush to seize them?

Failed Star Lake bid?

Eliminating any potential competition – guaranteeing NALCO’s monopoly position - seems to be the prime motivating factor. As the Telegram renders the Premier’s comments,

he said the most important fact is that the province, through Nalcor Energy, a Crown corporation, will take full control of the power at the end of March. [Emphasis added]

No details update:  Premier Danny Williams will confirm that NALCO tried to buy a portion of Star Lake but he won’t give any more details.

So if they didn’t need the power – as the Premier said in another interview - why try and buy in? According to the Premier, it was to bring “provincial ownership of the resource.” 

Odd statement that since the Premier knew that legally the provincial government owned the resource already. Al the Star Lake partnership had was a set of water rights leases and agreements.

Forget the conspiracy theories.  This is looking more and more like a case of “Why buy when you can seize?”