Muskrat Falls will be valu­able as­set

The Compass - - OPINION -

This month, I had the plea­sure of vis­it­ing Labrador with a group of 18 ex­ec­u­tive women, in­clud­ing a tour of the Churchill Falls hy­dro plant. It was a trip we planned to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the vast op­por­tu­ni­ties in Labrador.

As an ac­tive busi­ness per­son striv­ing to be well in­formed and a past chair on Nal­cor’s board of di­rec­tors, I al­ready knew the plant re­mains the sec­ond big­gest un­der­ground hy­dro fa­cil­ity in the world. But see­ing the plant with a group of new peo­ple was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence and made me proud to know New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans built it and continue to op­er­ate and man­age it to­day.

The women from other parts of At­lantic Canada were also im­pressed. Im­pressed with the mag­ni­tude of what we had achieved and with the op­por­tu­nity knock­ing on our door to­day — Muskrat Falls.

We have a chance to influence our fu­ture di­rec­tion by mak­ing a bold move. And while no megapro­ject comes with­out some de­gree of risk, I be­lieve we are well-equipped and ex­pe­ri­enced to man­age those risks.

Build­ing and manag­ing mega projects is what we do. We built Churchill Falls and we keep it run­ning to­day. We built and man­aged Hiber­nia, White Rose and Terra Nova. Now we have the op­por­tu­nity to build Muskrat Falls. We need to have con­fi­dence in our­selves and our abil­ity to suc­ceed. Hy­dro is not new to New­found­land and Labrador. We have been in the Hy­dro busi­ness longer than we have been in the oil busi­ness.

Muskrat Falls is a com­plex in­ter­weav­ing of multi busi­ness cases, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It means we need to fully un­der­stand why the busi­ness case works now and for fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties we know of and for oth­ers that will ap­pear. And then we need to continue to man­age the project in a world-class way.

As I stood on the ground in Churchill Falls, I re­flected that its story, too of­ten, shack­les us to the past. In­stead, it should en­able and em­power us to feel more ac­count­able to get things right. It should re­mind us of what we have ac­com­plished in the past, what we’ve learned and what we can do in the fu­ture.

The de­vel­op­ment of Muskrat Falls will not burden our chil­dren with debt. It will give them a valu­able as­set with pre­dictable clean en­ergy. Muskrat Falls gives us an op­por­tu­nity that so many prov­inces, states and coun­tries only dream of — the chance to know for 50 years that we have se­cured power for our peo­ple and our ex­ist­ing and fu­ture in­dus­tries. Muskrat Falls gives us the chance to build a rev­enue stream which will strengthen our prov­ince, es­pe­cially Labrador, in­stead of pay­ing oth­ers for our power we will be pay­ing our­selves!

Whether at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble or the kitchen ta­ble, it gives us a chance to change the way the world sees us and the way we see our­selves.

Cathy Bennett is the CEO of Bennett Group of Com­pa­nies. She writes from St. John’s.

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