27 October 2010

Lower Churchill: what Danny actually said (with translation)

From the text of Danny Williams’ speech to the provincial Conservative convention:

And of course, also looming large on the horizon right now is the development of the Lower Churchill project.

Right now, we are in discussions with Emera Energy and the folks in Nova Scotia who are anxious to be our partners as we move forward.

Imagine how exciting a day it would be if we could see that power avoid Quebec altogether and use the power ourselves or send it our neighbours in the Maritime Provinces and New England states. And it could happen my friends - just wait and see!

[BP:  How nice of Danny to tell you how other people are feeling.  He’s done this before and it turned out to be complete nonsense.  The most important words here are the verbs:  “would” and “could happen”.   It could happen but then again it could not.  And yes it would be exciting, if it happened.  Then again it wouldn’t be exciting if it didn’t.]

With this potential new and mutually beneficial partnership with Emera Energy which builds upon our existing partnership with them on our recall power from the Upper Churchill, we are embarking upon an exciting journey that has never before been seriously contemplated and pursued by those seeking to develop the Lower Churchill.

[BP:  There’s that conditional language again:  “potential”.   Of course, the idea of selling power to the Maritimes is as old as the Lower Churchill itself.  Most of what Williams seems to be doing here is thinking inside the box of what happened when he worked at the House of Assembly in the 1970s. It was very seriously contemplated back then, but abandoned.  Incidentally, remember about the claims that turned out to be total crap?  Well, there’s another one

We are saying "thank you Quebec, but we simply do not need you to develop this project". We are going to bring that clean, green power down from Labrador to the island and then sending power across to Nova Scotia.

[BP:  Funny but that just rings hollow in light of the news  - still unreported by any conventional news media - that Williams spent five frackin’ years trying to convince Hydro-Quebec to take an equity stake in the Lower Churchill, with redress for the 1969 contract put “to one side.”  It’s hard to get beyond the idea Williams is just talking this up to soothe his jangled nerves over last year’s series of Churchill Falls embarrassments or to replay Joe Smallwood’s 1964 strategy.]

Ultimately, some of the power could also end up going into New Brunswick or the hungry United States market as Emera has assets in Maine as well.

[BP:  Hungry?  Interesting choice of words given that the province’s energy corporation hasn’t been able to interest a single one of the hungry mouths to buy a morsel of the Lower Churchill food.  Now Hydro-Quebec on the other hand…]

How about that folks? Our power developed and managed by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and sold to market for the first time in history without having to beg Quebec for a piece of the pie!

[BP translation:  And if they’d accepted the secret deal without redress, I’d be standing here kissing French ass.]

This partnership with Emera would be based on another previously untested development option, and that is a phased development of the project. As you know the Lower Churchill River system is comprised of Muskrat Falls with 824 megawatts of power and Gull Island with 2250 megawatts.

[BP:  There’s that conditional language again:  “would”.  One of the reasons why people didn’t think of phasing with the small dam first is that the first dam can’t really generate the cash to pay for the huge transmission infrastructure and make cash at the same time.]

Our discussions with Emera and Nova Scotia would result in a partnership that would see us proceed with the development of Muskrat Falls first. The power from Muskrat would be used to help us displace expensive, dirty power from Holyrood which in itself justifies the project, and then the remainder would be sold to our partners in Nova Scotia and beyond.

[BP:  Displace isn’t the same as shut down entirely, is it?  That’s good because there is no plan to close Holyrood.  And as such it doesn’t justify the multi-billion project in itself.   It sure doesn’t justify the project when you have plenty of juice on the island to meet anticipated need without spending all that cash we don’t have.]

By using the Lower Churchill power here in the province, we will be able to provide stable rates for generations to come and an appropriate return to the treasury.

[BP:  Ratepayers will enjoy stable rates anyway, without the Lower Churchill.  If Williams builds his legacy project taxpayers will likely be saddled with prices that are much higher than the need to be.  The environmental assessment panel already told NALCOR that their submissions don’t justify building the Lower Churchill using exactly the same rationale Williams just used.  he knows that yet he is sticking to the same old – disproven – line.  makes you wonder what he is really up to.]

We would share the transmission with willing partners, unlike those in Quebec.

[BP translation:  Yeah and I’d be kissing their asses if only they’d have let me.  And thank heavens nobody remembers April 2009 when I cut a deal with Hydro-Quebec. ]

The larger Gull Island development would be a separate phase to follow, and would provide opportunities to attract industry to Labrador, should commercial partners be prepared to provide appropriate economic benefits.

[BP translation:  We could use the power for any company that would be foolish enough to come here knowing I’d expropriate their asses back to the stone-age just because  I woke up one morning without enough wood to finish the job. And frig AbitibiBowater too while we’re at it.]

Needless to say, there are still details to be worked out before and if a final agreement falls into place. But we are extremely excited about the prospects of developing this project in a way that brings real and meaningful benefits to the people of the province, to our partners and to our customers.

[BP translation:  That’s about all we have to get excited these days – the idea that something might possibly happen at some point down the road.  Anyone got any other conditional language?  I’ve used all mine up]

Of course, it is never over til it is over but we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to announce something sooner rather than later.

I am hopeful that with your support we can finally see this project get off the ground.

[BP translation:  If by something “we” mean just enough to let me get the frig out of here permanently.  Put a few bucks in the retirement coffers when we have the going away party.  In the meantime, keep the Citation turning and burning, boys.  We’ll be wheels up before you know it.]

- srbp -