More opposition to Muskrat Falls hydro project
The Newfoundland government should not proceed with the Muskrat Falls project!
Now that we have been fully briefed by NALCOR officials at their last annual general meeting on the proposed Muskrat Falls development, and after listening to statements from Premier Kathy Dunderdale and her ministers, we are firmly convinced that the government should not proceed further on this $6 billion, 824 MW project.
No. 1 — By going it alone on this project we, the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador will have to borrow the money required, $5 billion to $6 billion dollars. The interest on the loan will be 7 per cent or 7.5 per cent, with or without a federal government loan guarantee.
With a 50-year term to repay this huge loan we, the taxpayers, will have to pay each year $295 million towards paying off that huge loan.
No. 2 — The fact is that this project, even if it is completed, will not provide any revenues other than what our own ratepayers will be paying on their monthly bills.
NALCOR and the Newfoundland government claim, based on their own assumptions, that our light and power bills will increase by approximately 40 per cent. Their projections are that power from Muskrat Falls will cost .33 cents KWH ( blended to 14.5 cents) on the island part of the province.
This cost is not taking into consideration any cost overruns in the construction of a power plant and transmission power lines. Our light bills will increase substantially, no question about it. By how much is indeed the real question — 40 per cent, 80 per cent or 100 per cent?
No. 3 — The financial situation of this province must be taken into consideration. We presently have a provincial debt of $8.5 billion. One of the highest per capita in all of Canada. Our deficit projected for the next year, in the last Dunderdale administration budget, will be $495 million. To add another $6 billion to our provincial debt at this time would be irresponsible in our opinion.
No. 4 — It is disturbing for us to learn that recently, the Newfoundland government has injected $748 million into NALCOR towards the Muskrat Falls project and has approved the awarding of a contract to SNC-Lavelin, a Quebec-based company, for $ 50 million involving the Muskrat Falls project.
We say disturbing because it is spending taxpayers funds prior to any independent audit been done on the economic viability of the proposed project. We are also convinced that a strictly independent audit will show that this project should not proceed at this time.
No. 5 — If there is a need for additional power within the next five to 10 years, then NALCOR should be given the approval to pursue the following: upgrade the Holyrood plant, and develop smaller power plants such as Island Pond, Round Pond and Portland Creek.
Also, NALCOR should place more emphasis on the development of wind power and solar power.
The provincial government of the day must not burden down the taxpayers of our province with a debt load that we may find difficult to service, especially after our oil revenues are gone. Jim Morgan and Rick Bouzan