01 June 2010

Like we told you: Lower Churchill decision up in the air indefinitely

The nugget of news buried in a front page story in Saturday’s Telegram [not online] turns out to be dead on: there is no timeline to sanction the Lower Churchill.

 Bond Papers reported it on Sunday and in the House of Assembly Premier Danny Williams said the same thing. CBC has the story complete with comments from the scrum after Question Period.

That’s a gigantic change from just a few years ago when the pledge was to sanction the project by 2009, start construction in 2010 and then get it pushing power by 2015.

Williams has been pushing back the timelines on the project since 2007 but Monday marks the first time he has tossed the calendar out the window.

None of this will come as a surprise to BP readers.  The problems with the project, including the lack of markets, are old news around here.

In that context, it’s a bit funny to hear Williams complaining about paying for transmission through Quebec.  That’s something your humble e-scribbler noted as long ago as 2007:

The go-it-alone option now being pursued by Williams means that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro may now have to eat the costs of grid upgrades in Quebec and will certainly bear the cost of the underwater cabling to use the Maritime route. The cheapest estimate for the Maritime route would add an additional $1.5 to $2.0 billion to the project cost.

No word on what all this means for Williams’ personal political future, something he’s linked repeatedly to his continued life in politics.

If the Lower Churchill is off -  indefinitely – then by his own assessment, there’s really nothing holding Williams in politics.