Help with hy­dro bills

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - BY JAMES MCLEOD

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Siob­han Coady con­firmed Nov. 3 that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s sub­si­dized elec­tric­ity rates will in­clude large in­dus­trial cus­tomers af­ter Muskrat Falls be­gins gen­er­at­ing power.

Coady was speak­ing at the Min­eral Re­sources Re­view con­fer­ence in St. John’s, talk­ing op­ti­misti­cally about the fu­ture of the min­ing sec­tor.

But Coady ac­knowl­edged some big in­dus­trial op­er­a­tions need a lot of power, and the gov­ern­ment has to be care­ful not to let rates go too high.

“In­dus­trial cus­tomers get a dif­fer­ent rate be­cause they’re such heavy users. They get a dif­fer­ent rate than in­di­vid­u­als as well any­ways. We need to con­tinue to at­tract the in­dus­trial growth in this prov­ince, and we’ll con­tinue to do so,” she said.

“We will look at rate man­age­ment to en­sure we have a strong econ­omy, so we will be look­ing at mak­ing sure that we are on par with At­lantic Canada when it comes to com­pet­i­tive pric­ing.”

Due to cost over­runs and sched­ule de­lays, Muskrat Falls would drive up elec­tric­ity rates steeply if the gov­ern­ment doesn’t do any­thing to sub­si­dize rates.

Premier Dwight Ball has said he plans to keep rates at par with the fore­cast At­lantic Canada av­er­age of 17 cents per kilo­watt-hour.

The gov­ern­ment and Nal­cor En­ergy are still fig­ur­ing out ex­actly how all this will work, but Coady con­firmed it will ap­ply to all elec­tric­ity rates, not just res­i­den­tial rates.

“It’s the in­ten­tion of the prov­ince to re­main com­pet­i­tive with At­lantic Canada to make sure we can still at­tract peo­ple to do their in­vest­ments here,” Coady said.

“A lot of times, be­cause these are re­mote, they’re us­ing diesel, so they’re look­ing at al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources, and we’re will­ing to work with any­body to give them that op­por­tu­nity in the prov­ince.”

Over­all, Coady was op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of min­ing in the prov­ince. She said pub­lic geo­science work in the prov­ince is pro­vok­ing a lot more ex­plo­ration.

She pointed in par­tic­u­lar to sur­veys that showed pos­si­ble gold de­posits in Cen­tral New­found­land.

“(That caused) in 2016 a real rush on the stak­ing of gold in Cen­tral New­found­land — 21,000 claims were staked, and what that means is, of course, there’s a lot of work be­ing done in the cen­tral New­found­land area look­ing for gold,” Coady said.

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