27 July 2012

The Magic Number #nlpoli

“Nalcor’s position”, wrote the joint federal-provincial review panel on the Lower Churchill project, “was that up to 800 MW of energy from the Project would be required to meet provincial demand,…”.

And there are Nalcor’s forecasts that support the claim that out of the 3,000 megawatts potentially available from the Lower Churchill project, the province will need 800 megawatts.

There’s something about that number, 800.


What about the 1998 version of this project announced by Brian Tobin?  Sure enough, scan down the news release and you will find this:

Premier Tobin noted that separate from these arrangements with Hydro-Québec is the construction by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro of an 800-megawatt transmission line from Labrador to the island of Newfoundland. [Emphasis added]

Hang on a second.  Take a look at the deal from the early 1990s.  In a paper for the Blame Canada Commission, historian Jason Churchill quoted a cabinet presentation from 1991 on the talks.  Here’s a chunk of foot note 100::

Specifically, the proposal called for a 30 year contract that would initially grant Hydro-Quebec access to 2,400 MW of power but this amount would decline over time such that by the end of the contract in 2031, Newfoundland and Labrador would have had 3,200 MW available to either use, to export, or some combination thereof. Newfoundland and Labrador would also have provided energy security well into the twenty-first century and access to 800 MW of power at 3 mills/KWH.

Recurring numbers. This is starting to look a bit like an episode of Star Trek:  the Next Generation.

Oh, but look.  Right there after the 800 MW.  Evidence of just how much of a give-away that deal would have been:

The deal was projected to be of far greater value than the Hibernia Project. In terms of personal income benefits it was expected, by 2001 to have yielded $2.7 billion in terms of personal income benefits as opposed to $2.1 billion for Hibernia and $710 million in gross government revenue as opposed to $610 million for Hibernia.

Stop rolling your eyes.  The poor darlings who go on and on about give-aways just manifest their abiding ignorance every time they jabber on about stuff like that.

Anyway, the number 800 came up somewhere else. 

Of course. 

The 1970s.

In talks with Hydro-Quebec to develop the Lower Churchill, Frank Moores and his crew tried to get 800 megawatts from Churchill Falls to meet anticipated demand in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Here’s Jason Churchill again:

…Hydro-Quebec did not refuse the request for power, but stipulated that the energy ought to have been sold “at a price that would cover its own replacement cost.”

On 6th August, 1976, Crosbie, in his capacity as Minister of Mines and Energy, formally petitioned CFL Co. to provide the province, beginning 1 October 1983, with 800 MW of power from the Upper Churchill. On 31 August, 1976, CFL Co. President and Chief Executive Officer, J.W. Beaver, responded that the company was unable to comply with the request.  CFL Co.’s refusal to comply with the request led to the first of a series of court cases related to Churchill Falls.

Now it should strike just a wee bit weird that over the course of about 40 years, Newfoundland and Labrador’s need for electricity was always the same. 

800 megawatts. 

Never varied.