30 April 2012

The Muskrat Ah-Prentice #nlpoli

The local Tories were all twitterpated over the weekend with Jim Prentice’s comments about the Lower Churchill.


One suspects, of course, that they were loving it all up for the same reason they love Muskrat Falls in the first place:  they don’t know anything except that it is the official plan of the moment for their team and therefore they are all for it.

You see, neither of the loyal MFers who tweeted and re-tweeted actually looked at what Jim-bo said.  If you accept the VOCM version, it went like this:

Speaking to the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Industries Association, Prentice states now is the time Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland sit down and work out a long-term plan to deliver power to the rest of Canada.

Ontario and Quebec submitted a proposal in 2005 to develop the entire Lower Churchill, not just Muskrat falls.  The provincial government rejected the proposal out of hand in favour of what Danny Williams called the “go-it-alone” option. Jim Prentice  - quite obviously - doesn’t know anything about the Lower Churchill project.  Nor do people who are re-tweeting his words as an endorsement of a project he clearly knows nothing about. They don’t know what they are talking about either.

But wait.

It gets better.

Jim wants a long-term plan to deliver power to the rest of Canada.  If Jim knew anything about electricity transmission he’d know that Nalcor could move power tomorrow if they wanted.  The lines are there.  Nalcor is already using the lines to wheel power to New York.

All Nalcor would need to move power to Ontario would be an Ontario customer.

Well, if you missed it, go back a couple of paragraphs and note that the provincial government rejected a guaranteed sale.  Nalcor has been trying ever since to find a customer in Canada – or anywhere else – for their electricity.  They can’t find one because the Lower Churchill power is too expensive.  Hydro-Quebec isn’t an obstacle.

It’s that simple.

So that’s two huge problems with Jim’s comments. Now for the third.

Even if Nalcor sold electricity to Ontario at a loss – as they’d have to do given current markets - Muskrat Falls won’t meet the existing needs for the power as Nalcor has described it. Between January and March the plant will barely meet the island need.  Nalcor will likely have to ship recall power from Churchill Falls to Nova Scotia for free to fill the gap.

And if they wind up send Muskrat Falls electricity to meet Labrador mining needs they really won’t have enough juice.

Replacing Holyrood would take about 500 megawatts.  There’s another chunk of a 160 MW or so that goes to Nova Scotia. Muskrat Falls will only produce about 570 MW, on average.  Sometimes it will produce close to the installed generating capacity of 824 MW.  Sometimes it could push out less than 350 MW.  That’s all because the river’s water flows don’t come at the same steady rate all the time.

Now those Labrador mines will need about 750 megawatts of steady power. Do some pretty simple math.  You will see that even for the couple of months a year when Muskrat Falls cranks out its maximum, it won’t be able to supply all the demands Nalcor and the provincial government have already claimed Muskrat Falls will support – newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Labrador mines.

Nalcor certainly couldn’t ship any electricity from Muskrat Falls to Ontario because they won’t have any to ship.

So yeah. Jim Prentice thinks Muskrat falls is a great idea.  He supports it because he has no idea what is going on.

- srbp -