02 November 2010

Lower Churchill: more potato, potato

Sometimes really interesting things crop up in two stories about the Lower Churchill. 

Take for example, the likelihood of a deal with Emera to run a power line to Nova Scotia.  There’s a Canadian Press story dated November 1 that says this:

The head of Nalcor Energy won't say whether the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown agency is close to inking a deal with Emera Inc. (TSX:EMA) on the proposed Lower Churchill hydroelectric project.

Then there’s a CBC story dated November 1 that says something else:

Hydroelectric power from a proposed project in Labrador could reach the Maritimes within five to six years, Ed Martin, president of Newfoundland's Nalcor Energy, said Monday.

That five years obviously wouldn’t start today because as of 2010, the project is still bogged down in an environmental assessment.  Still, Ed didn’t give a probably projection on that.  It could – entirely fantastically  - be pumping juice in five years;  odds are though that the project would not be pushing electricity a decade from now. 

Premier Danny Williams recently told a gathering of the province’s Reform-based Conservative Party that a deal to develop one dam was possibly very close.  Ed Martin, the head of the province’s energy corporation told reporters in Halifax this week that  - from the CBC story – "[t]ime will not drive us. It has to be right."


Potato.  Potato.

Tomato. Tomato.

Maybe the whole thing’s off. 

Maybe the whole thing’s on.

Maybe the whole thing is half on, and half off, go-it-alone and with partners simultaneously.

Surely you’ve noticed that since 2005 this project has gone from doing it alone to doing it with partners to doing only a bit of it with partners and still nothing has happened after five years of endless public posturing.

Oh yes, and five years of secret talks, in addition to the public talking about it.

And the price, meanwhile is still $6.5 billion for the smaller dam and a bunch of expensive transmission lines.  That was the original price for two dams and a line to Quebec. The whole thing could actually cost as much as $14 billion.

But that’s not the end of the flippin’ and da floppin’.

Danny Williams told his Conservative followers that the line to Nova Scotia would be a sweet way to reject Quebec after all their slights, real and imagined, over the years.  According to CBC, Martin said that shipping all that power means NALCOR needs a line to Nova Scotia in addition to a line that runs through Quebec.

"If we are going to move the kind of volumes we're talking about over the 50 years, we've come to the conclusion we need both routes."

And in leading up to that comment, Martin restated one of the ideas your humble e-scribbler floated, just so he could refute it:

"With respect to that question of is it something that we're using it from a leverage perspective, the answer is no,"

Still, though, if Ed Martin actually had a deal or was really close to one, he’d be announcing it rather than talking about all sorts of scenarios and possibilities.

- srbp -