02 April 2011

Average NL family to pay $1000 extra per year for Muskrat Falls power: former PC finance minister

John Collins, who served as finance minister in two Progressive Conservative administrations under Brian Peckford, told the Telegram on Friday that by his rough calculation the average family in Newfoundland and Labrador will pay $1000 per year extra in electricity rates as a result of the Muskrat Falls megaproject.

Collins also said that “ to put another heavy expenditure in is going to get us into trouble.”  The story appears in the Saturday edition on page A5 but isn’t available on line.

First elected to the House of Assembly in 1975, John Collins served as finance minister from 1979 to 1985 and as health minister from 1985 until he left politics in 1989.

He told the Telegram that

“even the export of power doesn’t seem to be rendering enough to justify the cost of generating the power. The only benefit to the province seems to be closing down the Holyrood [generating plant], and  I think there are other ways of doing that.”

Collins is in favour of connecting the island electricity grid to the mainland, calling such a move an “absolute must for the future.” 

Collins also told the Telegram that developing the much larger Gull Island structure would make more sense than Muskrat Falls.  Collins referred to the smaller generator connected to the large transmission system as being like “the trappings of an elephant on a flea.”

In a letter to the Telegram that also appeared in the Saturday edition, Collins said that “[t]o date, full public knowledge of important details are sorely lacking, despite (or because of) imprecise, even contradictory, data from official sources.” [round brackets in original]

He then listed a series of questions on everything from financing to consumer electricity rates to the viability of possible alternatives to the expensive hydro megaproject.

- srbp -