15 July 2015

That’s gotta suck, big time #nlpoli

All the country’s provincial and territorial leaders – except for Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia – are in Newfoundland and Labrador this week for their annual conference.

What an  opportunity for Paul Davis in an election year.  He gets to show himself off looking all leader-like and premieral or whatever the word is for it.

The first day of the meeting the premiers and territorial leaders discussed aboriginal issues in Goose Bay.  In the afternoon, Davis laid on an all-expense-paid trip to the super exciting megaproject at Muskrat Falls.

And then everything went horribly wrong.

Only one premier and two of the territorial leaders went.

That’s it.

All of ‘em.

Watch Heather Gillis’ report for NTV to get the full effect.

His fellow premiers couldn’t be arsed to show Paul Davis a teensy bit of respect and turn out all smiles and shit for the photo op.

Just to add insult to injury, Rod Stewart and a sealskin coat made bigger news on Tuesday evening than Paul Davis’ big show in Goose Bay.

According to media reports, Davis was pitching surplus power from Muskrat falls for sale to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Interesting idea since there is no surplus power from Muskrat Falls to sell.

After all, there’s a huge lawsuit on the go right now in Quebec.  if Hydro-Quebec succeeds, it will screw Nalcor’s plan to play around with water flows and electricity supplies to Quebec in order to maximise the power they can get from the Muskrat.   if HQ succeeds,  Muskrat Falls won’t produce enough electricity reliably to provide the free block that Emera Nova Scotia is supposed to get.

Even if HQ’s lawsuit fails and Nalcor gets its way,  the Muskrat won;t be pumping out the kind of electricity that would allow Nalcor to provide electricity to an export customer on a long-term, consistent basis.

In the middle of winter,  every bit of juice Nalcor can squeeze out of the Muskrat will be needed to meet the demands in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.  May and June are the peak water flow months.  That’s when  Nalcor plans to pump every ounce of juice to Quebec in place of electricity from Churchill Falls.  That’s how they plan to save water so they can release it in the winter to meet winter demand.

Where is this thing you call surplus?

Good question.

Even Nalcor’s own officials don’t talk about reliably producing electricity to meet the kind of long-term power purchase agreements that should be financing something like Muskrat Falls. They talk about having electricity available now and again that they plan to sell to someone.

Ashley Fitzpatrick reported on that in a recent Telegram story.  Fitzpatrick was reporting on a regulatory filing in Prince Edward Island that confirmed the local power utility won’t be using the Muskrat to meet local needs. Maritime Electric needed guaranteed back-up, on demand, over the course of 30 years.

Nalcor can’t do it.

Not surprising, then, that the “government of Newfoundland and Labrador,”  as Fitzpatrick wrote, “has indicated it does not want Crown corporation Nalcor Energy setting more long-term contracts for Muskrat Falls power.”  Any more that is, beyond the guaranteed free block for Emera that came as part of the Maritime Link agreement.  Free block of power and guaranteed income until the 2080s for Emera from the partially privatised transmission system in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Oh, and one more thing.

The project is behind schedule.

First power was supposed to be in 2017 but Nalcor will not be able to hit that target.  You know the project is behind schedule because Nalcor boss Ed Martin won’t confirm the project is on schedule. The fact he won’t put any revised date on the table confirms it is so far off track he cannot reliably forecast when it will be done.