30 November 2012

Adding the technical to the legal on the WMA #nlpoli

“We are potentially paying 6.4 Billion for 170 MW of firm power, which will just be enough to meet the Emera commitment,”  notes JM in discussing one scenario in his latest commentary The Water Management Agreement and Peak Load Delivery to the Island

The scenario JM is referring to involves irregular production by Churchill Falls of 20 days at full capacity and 11 days at a minimum level. Nalcor laid it out in one of its presentations to the PUB:


This adds a significant new technical dimension to the ongoing water management agreement controversy.

JM’s other scenario is for a day in January using data provided to the PUB last winter.  It provides an estimate “of the total hourly island demand for a typical winter day in January for the year 2037.”  Island generation is assumed to be at peak capacity (98% hydro, 50% available wind, thermal standby)  Churchill Falls’ entire production is going to meet its contractual obligations to TwinCo and Hydro-Quebec.

The resulting charts show that “that essentially the entire live capacity of the reservoir … would be used to meet the island demand during the day.”  That’s the small reservoir located at the dam site Nalcor would have to use because of the time lag for water travelling down from Churchill Falls based on Churchill Falls’ production pattern.

He then poses a series of 10 major questions about Nalcor’s projections that would explain how Nalcor is planning to address some of the technical issues associated with their Muskrat Falls development and its dependence on water management that must be well co-ordinated with Churchill Falls.

JM also calls on Nalcor to release energy studies completed for the project.  Nalcor has refused to release them, citing competitive issues.  However, as JM notes, “Nalcor’s competitors are either Hydro Quebec, and/or Emera,“  both of which are partners on Labrador hydro projects.

This may be clear to the lawyers from Nalcor but I understand the position offered by Mr. [Bern] Coffey. This is not a black or white issue. Considering we have previously lost 2 court cases to Hydro Quebec, which were undoubtedly considered “sure bets” when the case was initiated, I do agree with Mr. Coffey.

We need 100% legal certainty prior to committing a 6.4 billion dollar undertaking.