Don’t rush Muskrat Falls de­vel­op­ment

The Southern Gazette - - EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT -


How many of you lis­tened to the Muskrat Falls de­bate on VOCM Ra­dio last week?

If you did, I’m sure you heard Nat­u­ral Re­souces Min­is­ter Jerome Kennedy say at least two or three times if Muskrat Falls is de­vel­oped the av­er­age house­hold elec­tric bill will in­crease by about $15 per month.

Mr. Kennedy and Premier Kathy Dun­derdale have said dozens of times that our electricit­y rates will be some­where be­tween 14.2 cents per kilo­watt hour to as much as 18 or 19 per kilo­watt hour. That’s with­out over­runs, which are sure to hap­pen.

If you burn 2,000 kilo­watt hours of electricit­y per month, as most fam­i­lies with elec­tric heat will burn dur­ing win­ter months, and for ar­gu­ment’s sake we’ll be pay­ing 15.4 cents per kilo­watt hour, then our elec­tric bill will be cost­ing us $100 a month plus tax more than we’re presently pay­ing. That tells me Mr. Kennedy isn’t very good at math, or at least his ad­vi­sors aren’t. That leads to an­other ques­tion – can we trust any of these fig­ures?

It’s puz­zling to me as to why Mr. Kennedy is say­ing that the av­er­age house­hold bill will only in­crease by about $75 per month. Even if our rate in­creased one cent per kilo­watt hour, the av­er­age house­hold (2,000 kilo­watt per hour) would be in­creased by more than $20 per month. Is he just try­ing to make it sound as no big deal to peo­ple that aren’t re­ally pay­ing at­ten­tion.

Once again I’m urg­ing peo­ple, and es­pe­cially se­niors and oth­ers on fixed in­comes, to start think­ing about this. It’s go­ing to be too late when you find your­selves with electricit­y bills that have in­creased by $100 per month or more. Voice your opin­ions any way you can. Phone or write your MHA, Mr. Kennedy or Premier Dun­derdale.

Muskrat Falls is go­ing to cost $6 or $7 bil­lion dol­lars with­out over­runs. It’s any­one’s guess how much more. Gov­ern­ment is say­ing it’s the cheap­est choice there is for the power we need. Just how true is this? How many other sources have they stud­ied?

The wind farm at St. Lawrence costs ap­prox­i­mately $50 mil­lion dol­lars. It pro­duces enough electricit­y to sup­ply 7,000 homes. It would take seven such wind farms to re­place the Holy­rood power sup­ply so I’ve been told by a re­li­able source. That’s a cost of ap­prox­i­mately $350 mil­lion.

We could build 20 such wind farms for just $1 bil­lion, enough electricit­y to sup­ply 140,000 homes. That should keep us from hav­ing black­outs by the year 2015 as Mr. Kennedy pre­dicts if we don’t do some­thing about our power sup­ply. We could prob­a­bly build 40 such wind farms and still save $4 or $5 bil­lion com­pared to the Muskrat de­vel­op­ment.

Gov­ern­ment says that wind farms are too risky, be­cause there could be short­age of wind at times. I fig­ure that should be a very min­i­mal worry here on this is­land. There are dozens and dozens of wind farms all across Canada and I’m sure they’re do­ing fine or we would hear about it in the news. The power sup­ply at Holy­rood could be kept as an emer­gency sup­ply. Gov­ern­ment is al­ready say­ing we’ll need one. So why not keep Holy­rood in­tact for use when needed?

Premier Dun­derdale and Mr. Kennedy are say­ing that our electricit­y rates will be go­ing up just as much with­out the Muskrat de­vel­op­ment as it will with it. The rea­son they say that is be­cause of the in­crease in oil prices. I’ve ob­tained fig­ures on this also and re­ally there seems to be very lit­tle com­par­i­son be­tween the two. Since 1999, the price of oil has in­creased by a stag­ger­ing 450 per cent. Dur­ing the same pe­riod, our electricit­y rates have only in­creased 53 per cent. That’s ap­prox­i­mately the per­cent­age that our gov­ern­ment says our rates are go­ing to in­crease in the next four to five years. I be­lieve some pre­dic­tions need to be checked, es­pe­cially if past fig­ures are in­di­ca­tions of fu­ture ones.

This de­vel­op­ment doesn’t need to be rushed. The his­tory books can wait. I don’t claim to be an ex­pert on any of this, but one thing I do know for sure. If the Muskrat de­vel­op­ment goes ahead, the av­er­age house­hold will be pay­ing much more than an ex­tra $15 per month. It will be more than $100 per month. A lot of se­niors will spend a lot of days suf­fer­ing from cold. That’s very sad in a ‘ have’ prov­ince. What do you think? Should we be pay­ing for this mon­strous project? Bernard Brake, Span­ish Room

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