13 December 2012

Revenue Streams and Not-so-Captive Markets #nlpoli

Natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy was in an exceptionally candid mood in the House of Assembly on Tuesday.

He explained that under legislation that will pass before Christmas,  Nalcor would be setting electricity rates for industrial users in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we need a guaranteed revenue stream in order to assure the bond rating agencies and the federal government that there is going to be monies to satisfy the requirements of paying the project. It is as simple as that. So, therefore, there has to be a restricted role of the PUB.

The interesting thing, though, is that Jerome couldn’t explain later on during debate in the House how the policy for Labrador would guarantee a revenue stream when the whole idea was to compete to Quebec so they couldn’t undercut Nalcor on price.

Combine the two of them, [generation, set by Nalcor,  and transmission, set by the PUB] …, and that is where we will come up then with the approximately $56 or $57 [per megawatt hour]  rate that will be charged. Again, it is very competitive and comparative to Quebec. However, if there is a process where Quebec either drops their rate to try to get business or increases their rate, Mr. Speaker, there will be a review mechanism in place whereby that can also be done by the minister.

The guaranteed revenue stream is actually somewhere other than in the industrial rates.  The guaranteed revenue stream is coming from the consumers on the island. 

Some people might be getting confused on how all the prices compare, what with the talk of megawatt hours and kilowatt hours.  Well,  industrial users in Labrador will be paying 5.6 or 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity that will come from Churchill Falls and from Muskrat Falls.  Consumers on the island will pay a blended price for electricity that includes Muskrat Falls electricity at 20 cents per kilowatt hour according to the most recent estimate Kennedy gave the House.

To switch to megawatt hours, for a second, that would be $56 per megawatt hour for industrial consumers.  Muskrat Falls delivered at Soldier’s Pond would be $200 per megawatt hour.