No power options
Mayor of St. Anthony blames Muskrat Falls project for lack of power options in Newfoundland and Labrador.
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.