Dis­cus­sion about Muskrat Falls should be based on facts

The Southern Gazette - - EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT - Ed­i­tor;

I am writ­ing in re­sponse to re­cent opin­ion pieces by Tele­gram colum­nist Brian Jones (‘Dun­derdale devo­tees de­serve dec­i­ma­tion’) and let­ter writer Char­lie Men­chions (‘Sec­ond thoughts on Muskrat Falls’) Jan. 24, which in­cluded a num­ber of in­ac­cu­ra­cies about the ba­sic prin­ci­ples and eco­nom­ics of the Muskrat Falls Project.

While both writ­ers shared their strong opin­ions against the project, and we re­spect the rights of oth­ers to their opin­ions, the facts about the need and value of Muskrat Falls are clear.

Muskrat Falls is be­ing de­vel­oped for the ben­e­fit of New­found­land and Labrador and to meet our prov­ince’s elec­tric­ity needs first and fore­most. Muskrat Falls will meet our grow­ing elec­tric­ity de­mand with clean, re­li­able en­ergy for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Decades of de­tailed stud­ies and anal­y­ses ex­haust­ing po­ten­tial al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources have con­tin­u­ally shown this project is the low­est-cost way to meet our elec­tric­ity needs now and into the fu­ture.

The busi­ness case for de­vel­op­ing Muskrat Falls and the Labrador-Is­land Trans­mis­sion Link is based on meet­ing the elec­tric­ity needs of con­sumers on the is­land – about 40 per cent of the en­ergy pro­duced at Muskrat Falls. The eco­nom­ics of the project have never re­lied upon any ad­di­tional rev­enue be­ing gen­er­ated through the sale of en­ergy from Muskrat Falls that is sur­plus to our needs – the re­main­ing 60 per cent of the plant’s out­put.

Con­trary to as­ser­tions by Mr. Jones and Mr. Men­chions there are no mar­kets for our power, Nal­cor En­ergy, through its en­ergy mar­ket­ing di­vi­sion, is al­ready suc­cess­fully sell­ing en­ergy into mar­kets out­side the prov­ince.

Our agree­ments with Emera Inc. for trans­mis­sion ac­cess over the Mar­itime Link and through Nova Sco­tia and New Brunswick will fur­ther strengthen our po­si­tion as a key player in en­ergy mar­kets through­out At­lantic Canada and New Eng­land when sur­plus power from Muskrat Falls be­comes avail­able.

The Muskrat Falls de­vel­op­ment will also make a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to re­duc­ing an­nual carbon diox­ide emis­sions by elim­i­nat­ing up to 4.5 mega­tons per year. The value of clean hy­dropower has also been rec­og­nized by the New Eng­land gover­nors, who launched a for­mal process in 2013 with a goal to in­clude new large quan­ti­ties of Cana­dian hy­dro in the sup­ply mix for their states.

While the mer­its of the project are sound, with­out any rev­enue from the sale of en­ergy out­side the prov­ince, sur­plus en­ergy not needed in our prov­ince will be sold out­side the prov­ince for profit. Th­ese prof­its will be re­turned to the prov­ince for the ben­e­fit of New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans.

Other prov­inces have been mak­ing strong eco­nomic re­turns from busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties such as this for decades, and this prov­ince, with its bounty of clean, re­new­able en­ergy, will do the same.

The ad­di­tion of the Mar­itime Link be­tween the is­land of New­found­land and Nova Sco­tia pro­vides other ben­e­fits as well, in­clud­ing fur­ther en­hanc­ing the re­li­a­bil­ity of our pro­vin­cial elec­tric­ity sys­tem.

Fol­low­ing in-ser­vice, we will have the abil­ity to im­port power from other mar­kets if we re­quire en­ergy in an emer­gency. The In­ter­con­nec­tion Op­er­a­tors Agree­ment es­tab­lished be­tween Nal­cor and Emera in­cludes pro­vi­sions for emer­gency as­sis­tance and emer­gency en­ergy trans­ac­tions.

This agree­ment can be viewed in full on our web­site, at ‘muskrat­falls.nal­coren­ergy.com/news­room/re­ports’.

The de­vel­op­ment of Muskrat Falls will sup­ply much-needed elec­tric­ity in this prov­ince, gen­er­ate years of em­ploy­ment and in­ject bil­lions into Canada’s econ­omy. Since con­struc­tion started over a year ago, more than $230 mil­lion has been in­vested in the prov­ince (as of Novem­ber 2013), with res­i­dents of New­found­land and Labrador mak­ing up over 80 per cent of the to­tal work­force.

Th­ese ben­e­fits are ex­pected to grow through­out con­struc­tion, with to­tal in­come to labour and busi­ness es­ti­mated at $1.9 bil­lion and peak em­ploy­ment at 3,300 work­ers in 2015. Scru­tiny is a good thing. I’’s the right thing. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to be knowl­edge­able on the facts of the project.

Through­out the con­struc­tion of the project we’ll con­tinue to meet with mem­bers of the pub­lic, an­swer their ques­tions and have in­for­ma­tion read­ily ac­ces­si­ble so the peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador con­tinue to have the op­por­tu­nity to en­gage in an in­formed dis­cus­sion.

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