15 July 2011

Did I say yes to Muskrat? I meant “no”: Jones

Political decisions in Newfoundland and Labrador are apparently like the local weather at least as far as the current crop of party leaders in the province is concerned.

Wait a minute and everything changes.

Kathy Dunderdale set the standard for indecisiveness with her on-again, off-again subsidies for Danny Williams’ latest gaggle of professional jockstraps.

Now it’s Yvonne Jones’ turn.

In an interview with NTV’s Issues and Answers last week, Jones said that as Premier she’d hand over responsibility for deciding the fate of the Muskrat Falls to the Auditor General. 

And if he ruled the thing was good, then that was good enough for Jones.  She’d go along with it.  Jones sounded positively giddy at the thought of all the jobs and electricity to fuel develop in Labrador.  She claimed there’s 700 megawatts need for mining developments.  That’s pure crap, of course.

Well wait a minute, or in this case a couple of days, and Jones wants to scrap the deal now. That’s what she says in the latest news release from the Opposition Leader’s Office

The reason Jones changed her mind is an interview with Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin on CBC Radio.  Shumlin noted, among other things, the problems with the current projected prices for Muskrat Falls power. 

“If the power is too expensive for residents of the United States, how is it affordable for us, when Premier Dunderdale wants to charge us more for it than consumers outside the province,” Jones said. “Kathy Dunderdale is content to saddle this province with generations of debt for a project that doesn’t make financial sense.”

Quick!  Get the smelling salts.  Regular readers of this corner are swooning at this revelation. After all, it’s not like your humble e-scribbler hasn’t been pounding the drum about how uncompetitive the Muskrat Falls power is on the markets not just today but well into the future.

In fact, there’s even a comment from Kathy Dunderdale  - from last fall - about the lack of American markets for the super expensive Muskrat power.

And if none of that rings a bell, don’t forget the Rhode Island memorandum of understanding.  Kathy Dunderdale told the legislature one story.  Turns out that, to paraphrase a famous politician, nothing Kathy said could be further from the truth:

As far as we can determine, there is no legislative hold up here in Rhode Island, it is more of a question of cost.  While the power generation is inexpensive, the cost of transmission adds to the final price. The possibility of purchasing power is still alive; it may be a topic of discussion at the conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers that is happening today. Interest in purchasing renewable energy remains. 

Yes folks, there you have it from 2009:  New England states are interested in buying energy from renewable sources but the damnable costs of transmission are a problem.

That post did not make the local media sit up and take notice.  It took two years and another governor for them to figure it out.

Anyway, scuttling the deal is Jones’ latest position. Once she gets a few phone calls from people who want jobs on the project or from business owners anxious to suck harder on the public debt tit, she’ll swing around again.

- srbp -