26 March 2012

$#*! politicians say: Jerome! edition #nlpoli

Everyone’s favourite natural resources minister outdid himself last week for saying things that were just so far removed from reality that they were just funny.

He said them in the House of Assembly and if that wasn’t good enough he repeated them for this week’s episode of On Point with David Cochrane.

By the by, here’s the real take-away from Cochrane this weekend:  the Tories are in such political shape generally and are saying such complete rubbish that Cochrane looked like he was trying desperately not to break down laughing at Kennedy and David Brazil.

This is the hardest pounding Cochrane has delivered to any politician in years and he did it to two of them on the same program.  Make no mistake:  Cochrane was thoroughly professional and fair.  What he did was just refuse to let utter crap go unchallenged.

And it was crap.

Kennedy insisted he wanted to hear all sorts of criticism to point what is wrong with the Muskrat Falls project.  “Show us where we are wrong,” Jerome says.

But as everyone have seen over the past few months, the government simply attacks the critics personally (they are just politically motivated according to Kennedy) or dismisses the criticism.

And when they aren’t doing that, the government just makes shit up.

Like when Jerome claimed that Nalcor and the government had studied natural gas as an option and dismissed it. 

They dismissed it alright, out of hand. They’ve been stuck with all the assumptions they found in a 1980 study, long before anyone found natural gas offshore.  Read the feasibility study done in 1980 and notice the strange similarity to the current thinking about which two choices to think about and which one is cheaper.  You’ll be amazed.

But there’s absolutely no sign that anyone connected to the provincial government has ever given natural gas a moment’s serious thought for what it is:  a much lower cost alternative to Muskrat Falls that would actually produce more electricity than Muskrat Falls ever could.

A natural gas plant with 824 megawatts of installed generation could produce the full amount.  Muskrat Falls will produce – on average – about the equivalent of 570 megawatts or so. The cost would be considerably less than half the cost of Muskrat Falls and the line to Nova Scotia, which incidentally, is now $8.9 billion.

Perhaps the funniest new line Kennedy is using is that Muskrat Falls will be needed to generate electricity for new mining development in Labrador.

That’s a new one.  Until now, Muskrat Falls was supposed to be a replacement for Holyrood. But that’s only for three months a year   A bit of electricity will go off to Nova Scotia for free and the rest was supposed to be sent off to some unknown foreign lands.

During the environmental review process, Nalcor couldn’t produce a single concrete sale to show just how much greenhouse gas Muskrat Falls would displace.  The reason is simple:  MF electricity is too expensive.  No one will buy it.

So now Jerome’s got a new story:  Labrador mines.  The mines will need all of Muskrat Falls and then some besides.  So where we will get the electricity to replace Holyrood?  Someone should ask Kennedy that one so he can invent a new answer.

Last week in the House, Kennedy had another gem:


Gull Island is not possible because we cannot get through Quebec, Mr. Speaker, wind is not an option and we know that natural gas is not an option. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: What options are you talking about? What is it you want us to explore? We have explored everything. Muskrat Falls is the lowest cost and best option to secure the future of this Province.

“Gull Island is not possible because we cannot get through Quebec.”  That is exactly what Kennedy said, word for word.

And not a word of it is true.

Nalcor current sells electricity to New York by running it through Quebec.  They’ve been doing it since 2009.  If they had someone to buy any electricity from Labrador, they could move it through Quebec without a problem.  The reason they aren’t developing Gull Island is because they don’t have any customers for the power.

Full stop.

In fact, if they had customers to justify Gull Island, that’s the one they’d be building because it would be more cost-effective than Muskrat Falls.  In fact, if you look at Nalcor’s own information provided to the public utilities board, it appears they never started looking at Muskrat Falls as a stand-alone project until 2010.  It’s worth quoting a couple of paragraphs from that Nalcor document:

In 2010, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro was faced with a decision relating to generation expansion for the Island Interconnected System for the timeframe ranging from 2015 to 2020. As ensuing analysis indicated that the least-cost expansion option would involve a Labrador-Island HVdc (high voltage direct current) infeed, it was determined that priority should be given to the Muskrat Falls Development. This development would be sufficient to meet forecasted demand in for the Island Interconnected System, while providing some additional capacity for potential export to the Maritimes.

Based on this change, the proposed 1600 MW multi-terminal HVdc scheme would be replaced with a smaller point-to-point system from Muskrat Falls to Soldiers Pond. With an estimated annual plant capability of 4.9 TWh at Muskrat Falls and up to 300 MW of available recall capacity from the Upper Churchill, it was determined that the HVdc link should be sized for 900 MW.

Looking at what Jerome Kennedy said last week about Muskrat Falls, you’d almost think he was making this $#*! up as he goes.

- srbp -