The Western Star - - EDITORIAL -

“Since the glory days of the mill, I’ve never seen any­thing like this.” Any idea of the au­thor of those words?

If you were at the Ro­tary lun­cheon in Cor­ner Brook nearly two years ago, in July 2017, you would have heard Kirby Mercer (CEO of Beothuk En­ergy Inc.) ut­ter that ex­act phrase.

Mercer was in our city to pro­vide an up­date on his com­pany’s plan to de­velop off­shore wind en­ergy in western NL. Mercer’s key in­vestor, Copen­hagen Off­shore Part­ners, were re­ported to have se­cured nearly $1 bil­lion in pri­vate fund­ing.

The project in­cluded a plan to have a fabri­ca­tion plant at Cor­ner Brook’s port and fa­cil­i­ties to main­tain and ser­vice a wind farm in the Stephenvil­le area.

Mercer wowed the Ro­tary au­di­ence with es­ti­mates of 600 jobs for Cor­ner Brook with pos­si­bly as many as 2,000 em­ployed. But there was a stick­ing point: time. Time was of the essence. Beothuk En­ergy had to ne­go­ti­ate an off-take agree­ment with gov­ern­ment, the util­i­ties and cus­tomers for the en­ergy.

If a com­mit­ment was not in hand by the end of 2017, Mercer told the Ro­tary au­di­ence, the project could go some­where else.

Well, it is fast ap­proach­ing nearly two years since those words were spo­ken and still no com­mit­ment in sight.

About a week af­ter Mercer made his re­marks, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Siob­han Coady was at the En­vi­roSum­mit 2017 in Stephenvil­le and stated re­gard­ing Beothuk En­ergy, “that’s cer­tainly a big op­por­tu­nity.”

One month later, in Au­gust 2017, in a state­ment sent to The Western Star, Coady noted, “the project is in its early stages and we con­tinue to dis­cuss.”

Let’s con­tinue with the time­line in 2017 and it is now mid-Septem­ber.

Head­line from The Western Star: “Beothuk En­ergy project de­layed”

But wait, this de­lay is not the project I’ve just de­scribed.

A $4-bil­lion Beothuk En­ergy wind en­ergy de­vel­op­ment for Nova Sco­tia was now on hold some two years af­ter be­ing an­nounced.

See any sim­i­lar­i­ties yet to our pro­posed wind en­ergy de­vel­op­ment?

The 1,000-megawatt project for N.S. was to be much larger than the 180 megawatt de­vel­oped here in Western NL, yet both had one strik­ing sim­i­lar­ity: they were noth­ing burg­ers.

Premier Ball has stated he wants to in­crease elec­tric­ity de­mand in our prov­ince by tak­ing oil heated gov­ern­ment build­ings and switch­ing them to be­ing pow­ered by elec­tric­ity (The Western Star-Sept. 28/18).

My be­lief is the last thing Ball wants to bring to this prov­ince’s en­ergy grid is an en­ergy source to com­pete with Muskrat Falls.

As an aside, Ball’s words con­tra­dict Gerry Byrne’s words in this news­pa­per the pre­vi­ous day of: “We are ex­plor­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties to use wood fi­bre as an al­ter­na­tive fuel source. Re­plac­ing car­bon rich fuel sources such as oil for heat­ing of our pub­lic build­ings.”

Byrne went on to add, the prov­ince is en­cour­ag­ing the pri­vate sec­tor to con­sider that for new con­struc­tion and retrofitti­ng – Star, Sept. 27/2018.

Now we have two en­ergy sources on the ta­ble: Muskrat Falls and wood fi­bre. Well gen­tle­man, which is it?

Are we go­ing with elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from Muskrat to power our hos­pi­tals, schools and gov­ern­ment build­ings and pri­vate sec­tor builds or not?

Any wind en­ergy pro­posal like Beothuk will not see the light of day in NL. Cru­cial to keep in mind is pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion passed in 2010. This act is a road­block to any pri­vate sec­tor wind de­vel­op­ment like Beothuk’s. There is no sign this act will be re­pealed in whole or in part. Beothuk is a dead duck in western NL.

Satur­day, June 15 marked Global Wind Day.

Any guess what Coady planned to serve up to mark the oc­ca­sion which mir­rored her en­thu­si­asm for Beothuk’s pro­posal?

On the menu: An­other noth­ing burger.

Bern Kenny, Cor­ner Brook

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