More op­po­si­tion to Muskrat Falls hy­dro pro­ject

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

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

St. John’s

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