Group takes en­ergy project to task

2041 En­ergy Inc. says Nal­cor, gov­ern­ment not con­sid­er­ing al­ter­na­tives

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA

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.

RE­CENT RE­VIEWS

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).”

IN­VOICE PAID

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.

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