29 October 2009

Eating his own

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is tearing strips, not off New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham or Hydro-Quebec but his own deal with Hydro-Quebec from last April.

Williams attacked the deal in a letter to Graham:

Despite our expectation of regulatory fairness [ in wheeling electricity across Quebec], Nalcor Energy has encountered obstacles in Quebec. Nalcor has been forced to lodge four complaints with the regulatory authority in Quebec about the tactics being used by Hydro Quebec Transenergie that serve to delay and inhibit our progress.

Under an agreement announced in April 2009, the provincial government’s energy corporation sells power to unidentified customers in New York state.  The power is wheeled along transmissions lines in Quebec under what is known as the open access transmission tariff.   NALCO pays Hydro-Quebec $19 million a year to wheel the power.  The figure was not released by NALCO or the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

While Williams is now slamming the deal – making it sound as if there was no wheeling agreement at all -  back in April, he was positively giddy with excitement at what he termed an “historic” agreement:

“This is truly a historic and momentous occasion for the people of our province, as never before have we been granted access through the province of Quebec with our own power…”.

There is no obvious explanation for Williams sudden attack on his own project nor is there any explanation for his claims that Hydro-Quebec is blocking or trying to block NALCOR’s access to markets.  The April deal proves there is no real obstacle.

What makes the latest tirade all the more bizarre is that in a scrum with reporters two days ago, Williams acknowledged  that there was no obstacle to getting power to markets in the United States.  In the same scrum, he said Hydro-Quebec might be trying to do just that. 

His disdain for the sale of NB Power to Hydro-Quebec is apparently based on losing the race for new markets for hydroelectricity.