Group takes energy project to task
2041 Energy Inc. says Nalcor, government not considering alternatives
Some lawyers are joining forces in an effort to convince the public the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development is not the best option for serving the province’s future energy needs.
Members of ‘2041 Energy Inc.’ met with reporters Thursday morning in St. John’s to discuss its reasons for forming the group.
Richard Cashin, a former Liberal MP in the 1960s who later helped form the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, said “Our purpose is to deal with the Muskrat Falls proposal and to ensure that every viable alternative is put forward before the public and scrutinized.”
Also on hand for the announcement were fellow lawyers Dennis Browne, Bernard Coffey, Edward Hearn and Cabot Martin.
Mr. Hearn, who served on Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s board for 10 years through appointments by former premiers Brian Peckford and Clyde Wells, is the president of 2041 Energy.
“Each alternative to the Muskrat Falls project must be studied fully and completely by the Public Utilities Board (PUB). The people of our province deserve this, and the objective of our group is to ensure nothing less.”
Alternatives to the project Mr. Hearn said exist on the island and could jointly serve its future energy needs incrementally, combined with conservation efforts, include natural gas, other smaller hydro projects and wind energy.
Mr. Cashin said the provincial government and Nalcor Energy have misled the public on the viability of Muskrat Falls, and he worries it has the potential to bankrupt the province. He said the prospects of developing Muskrat Falls have been given consideration since the 1960s, with all previous governments determining it was not a feasible venture.
Citing recent studies on the Lower Churchill project that took issue with its feasibility, Mr. Cashin said there are reasons to doubt the development of Muskrat Falls.
Cove. It would mean a new ‘ booster station’ would have to be installed and someone trained to regulate the chlorination.
An opportunity would be given to install the new station before eliminating this service. Mrs. Mullett said Lewin’s Cove is already working on that.
Mrs. Hanrahan indicated Burin wants to negotiate a new five year agreement to supply water to Lewin’s Cove as of Jan. 1, 2013. But there was no response from Lewin’s Cove to this request in the letter.
She said the meeting resulted in the interest savings being dropped and a recognition Lewin’s Cove own water meter had identified an increase in water consumption by its residents.
Mayor Kevin Lundrigan said council could make a request of Municipal Affairs to try to solve the dispute, but he suggested the reply would be a request to try to resolve the issue themselves.
Councillors asked staff if Lewin’s Cove had paid any of its outstanding 2012 water rates – $34,127. The response was no payment. On top of the water rate, there is a six per cent interest charge on outstanding monies.
Couns. Shane Foote and (Finance Committee chair) Howard Lundrigan asked what the town staff would do with its own residents in arrears on water taxes, by the annual deadline date of May 31, without a payment arrangement agreed to. The response was the town would notify owners water would be cutoff to their residences.
Coun. Foote said, of the outstanding Lewin’s Cove water bill, “Let’s do it then! (cut water to the community).”
Mrs. Mullett indicated an invoice from the Town of Burin was not received by her town until July 10, and a cheque for $17,000 for the first half of this year was issued July 17.
Burin councillors were peeved by the fact it was the town’s water supply but the Town of Lewin’s Cove was “telling us what to do with our water.”
Mrs. Hanrahan indicated the agreement with Lewin’s Cove contained clauses identifying a specific notification period before the service could be cut, and then with arbitration enacted it could be longer.
Couns. Lundrigan and Foote agreed to “getting a legal opinion on options available to the town before any action was taken.”
A motion was passed unanimously to obtain the legal opinion and then to consider council’s next step.
Coun. Lundrigan noted “There’s been an argument about the water rates with Lewin’s Cove since I came on council, and that’s 16 years.”
Mrs. Hanrahan suggested if arbitration was the route taken it was her understanding each council would appoint an arbitrator (lawyer) and a third impartial arbitrator would chair the panel.
Burin’s own lawyer advised council the appointment of an arbitration panel could be costly, and Mrs. Hanrahan indicated that would likely be divided in half for each council.