24 October 2009

$10 billion for NB Power

A deal is close according to the Globe and Mail that would see Hydro-Quebec buy all of NB Power for $10 billion.

But the Globe story contains some of its characteristic shit reporting in the sub-head: “blocking access of other provinces' utilities to U.S. markets”.

There’s more the same drivel farther down the story but don’t buy most of it because it just isn’t true.

This sale can’t block access for anyone to NB’s power grid.  It can’t, not if NB Power and HQ want to keep selling power into the US.

And from the looks of it at least one statement could be completely false:  “Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has complained to regulators in Quebec and the United States that Hydro-QuĂ©bec's transmission arm is not providing it fair access to U.S. markets.”

You see Danny Williams has bitched alright, but he was bitching because he couldn’t get HQ to buy into the Lower Churchill. 


According to Ed Martin, Williams right-hand on any of a number of issues, there is no problem whatsoever with Hydro-Quebec.  Thus it would be very odd if the company Martin runs was doing things – as the Globe reports -  like filing formal complaints alleging some pretty serious unfair market practices against HQ. 

All they have actually done is pursue a tariff through Quebec which they duly got.  Your see – Shawn and Rheal take note – NL Hydro has already been wheeling power into the United States across lines in Quebec in a deal touted by none other than …wait for it…Danny Williams Hisself.

Notice there is no further detail on that in the Globe story.  That’s a pretty good clue that Rheal Seguin and and Shawn McCarthy just didn’t do their homework.   Instead, they seem to have opted for a half-backed paraphrase of an equally a half-baked version of the old Danny story and not rely on what Danny’s energy minister said. 

In the process, the bitching morphed into a complaint filed with a Canadian or American utility regulator.  Look farther on in the story and that’s exactly what they do, and as you can see they got the bitching story and the bit about the alternate transmission line wrong too.  That’s what you get for quoting Liz’s thumbs and not doing any real research.

There’s also another completely asinine comment about HQ getting greater access to the US as a result.  If the guys at the Globe even bothered to check their facts, they’d know that HQ already owns capacity on the grid through New Brunswick. The story has been out there since the spring. That’s definitely not the motivation for this deal.

The upside to this story is that New Brunswickers will shed a 90-year-old chronic debt pig and retire in the process what the Globe describes as 40% of public debt in one fell swoop.

Let’s just hope that while about half the story appears to be complete fiction, the bit about New Brunswickers shedding their debt burden turns out to be true.