No power op­tions

Mayor of St. An­thony blames Muskrat Falls project for lack of power op­tions in New­found­land and Labrador.

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front Page - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS stephen.roberts@north­ern­

A mu­nic­i­pal leader in St. An­thony is point­ing a fin­ger in the di­rec­tion of Muskrat Falls for the lim­i­ta­tion of other forms of en­ergy pro­duc­tion in the prov­ince.

Mayor Ernest Simms and his fel­low councillors would like to see wind en­ergy de­vel­oped on the tip of the North­ern Penin­sula.

How­ever, pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion pre­vents any­one but New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro from be­ing able to pro­duce or sup­ply power to res­i­dents and busi­nesses.

Bill 61, passed by the gov­ern­ment in 2012 in prepa­ra­tion for Muskrat Falls, amends the Elec­tri­cal Power Con­trol Act, 1994 to give them this mo­nop­oly.

This prov­ince was ranked last in 2015 by the Cana­dian Wind En­ergy As­so­ci­a­tion for the amount of en­ergy a prov­ince can pro­duce through wind farms.

When asked why progress on the devel­op­ment of wind power is so dif­fi­cult in the prov­ince, Simms sums it up in a few pointed words: “We’re not do­ing one God damn thing be­cause of Muskrat Falls.”

Al­though the multi­bil­lion­dol­lar megapro­ject is ex­pected to pro­duce plenty of en­ergy once it’s com­pleted, the po­ten­tial for wind­gen­er­ated power on the North­ern Penin­sula is also strong.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2009 study con­ducted by Me­mo­rial Univer­sity, the St. An­thony re­gion, specif­i­cally Cape Nor­man, was iden­ti­fied as hav­ing one of the best re­sources in all of Canada.

Cape Nor­man re­ceived a score of 155 out of max­i­mum of 160 from sev­eral de­ter­mi­nants for top en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

For sev­eral years, the St. An­thony town coun­cil has been try­ing to iden­tify the cost of in­stal­la­tion of wind power to op­er­ate the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing and Po­lar Cen­tre. Any ex­cess power would go into the grid to be sold back to New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro and re­dis­tributed.

Ac­cord­ing to Simms, there are a num­ber of rea­sons the town wants to de­velop wind power.

For one, the re­gion needs the ex­tra power and the ex­tra ac­cess to power. The lo­cal sub­sta­tion can no longer ac­com­mo­date the en­tire re­gion with so many new homes and build­ings.

Sec­ondly, he cites wind power as one of the two clean­est op­tions for en­ergy, along with so­lar.

Simms also be­lieves that the long-term fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment in wind power would be prof­itable for the town.

“We can look at an ini­tial in­vest­ment and it’s go­ing to cost a bit to put it in,” he says. “But over the years, you save, and even­tu­ally you pay it off, and then you’re ac­tu­ally sell­ing power into the grid so you’re ba­si­cally mak­ing money.”

And Simms says the con­struc­tion of wind farms would be much cheaper than the cost of Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric project. He be­lieves the prov­ince would be able to pro­vide res­i­dents with cheaper elec­tric­ity via wind power. He notes that elec­tric­ity rates are now set to dou­ble in the prov­ince by 2021 to 21.4 cents per kilo­watt hour.

The av­er­age cit­i­zen will not be able to af­ford the in­crease to hy­dro, he added.

Simms be­lieves that some vi­sion is now re­quired from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment in or­der to al­le­vi­ate the strain on the prov­ince’s res­i­dents and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“I be­lieve that if we get some­body who is will­ing to think out­side the box and de­velop wind power and so­lar power that we have the po­ten­tial to do here in this prov­ince, we’ll be able to pro­vide cheaper elec­tric­ity than what we’re get­ting now.”


St. An­thony Mayor Ernest Simms.

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