15 April 2011

Nalcor issues deceptive release linked to Muskrat Falls megaproject

The province’s energy company issued a deceptive news release on Thursday, apparently as part of its campaign to drive up electricity prices in advance of the Muskrat Falls megaproject.

The headline on the release states that:

Rising oil prices cause increase in Rate Stabilization Plan Adjustment for electricity consumers

The Telegram picked up the false headline and ran with it, even though, the first line of the release states that the company has merely filed an application for a rate increase.

So rising prices haven’t caused anything yet and they may not cause it at all.  The public utilities board must review the application and receive public comment before making a decision.  Many things could affect the application, including Nalcor’s has $10 million windfall from the Enel expropriation that they could apply before forcing customers to pay more for electricity.

That’s not the only misleading statement in the release, but it sure doesn’t look good when the headline is completely and utterly false to begin with.

The company also claims that “If we maintain the status quo of electricity generated through Bunker C oil at Holyrood,rates will continue to rise into the foreseeable future.”  That’s true but only if Nalcor neglects it responsibilities.  If the company promoted conservation, used its existing renewable resources to greater advantage and brought wind and new small hydro on stream, the price of electricity wouldn’t inevitably rise.

Nor will the cost rise if the price of oil drops.

Both of those things don’t draw the sort of connection implicit in the release between inevitable price increases and the idea that Muskrat Falls is a solution to the problem.

When a company has to rely on such deceptive claims, you can be sure it has no substantial arguments in favour of its proposal.

- srbp -