Independent analyst completes testimony
Nalcor Energy lawyer highlights lack of formal education credentials
The executive director of the Helios Centre was back on the stand at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry on Friday, suggesting an incomplete review of the proposed hydroelectric project before its sanction in 2012, but Philip Raphals also acknowledged there were detailed documents he was not aware of from that review process, from the period after he was retained.
Raphals said more could be done to aggressively manage energy use in the province. He also suggested the alternative to Muskrat Falls considered by the Public Utilities Board — the “isolated island” option — did not properly consider additions of wind power.
“I think everyone acknowledges Newfoundland has a world-class and very extraordinary wind resource,” he said. “So then the question is: what can you do with that?”
But Raphals referred more than once to reports from early 2012 or earlier. Nalcor Energy lawyer Dan Simmons directed him to a detailed timeline for the “isolated island” power plan, as it was reported by Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) in late 2012, before a final decision. It would have come after Raphals’ review of provincial energy plans, and Raphals said he was not familiar with it.
The later report showed the alternative option to Muskrat Falls hydro being considered included 25 megawatts (MW) of new wind production installed in 2015, followed by 50 MW in 2020, 50 MW in 2025, 50 MW in 2030 and replacements of existing wind power generation atop the additions. Simmons noted there is also existing wind power on the island system.
At another point, Raphals acknowledged that when he was speaking critically of limitations in Muskrat Falls’ power production in terms of potential outside energy sales, he was not considering the use of the hydro project in tandem with the rest of the power assets on the island.
His professional credentials were reviewed by Simmons on the record. In terms of formal education, Raphals has a bachelor of arts degree and a master’s degree in music, but no training in public policy, engineering, finance, law or energy-related fields.
Raphals said he gets questions related to his education all the time, acknowledging a change in careers over time.
As for why he did not go back to pursue formal study, as he pursued work as an energy consultant, he said, “I didn’t have time. I’ve been exceedingly busy. I have one interesting project after another and it never seemed to me to be really something that was worth investing the time.”
As noted in his CV, he became a freelance science journalist (to 1992) and eventually moved into consulting work as an independent energy analyst, founding the non-profit Helios Centre.