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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Collins on Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

In Quebec, Jacques Parizeau has turned on the Parti Quebecois’ values charter.  It made national news.

In Newfoundland and Labrador last week, former Conservative finance minister John Collins took another swipe at Muskrat Falls in a letter to the editor of the Telegram.  Not many likely read it and no other media reported on it.

But they should have. 

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Debt, Demand, and Delusions #nlpoli

The Conservatives running the province got together with their staff and key supporters this weekend to reaffirm their conviction that they alone ought to be running the province.

Some people seem to think it’s remarkable that they stand together behind Kathy Dunderdale and her supposed wonderful charm, despite what the polls says.

There’s nothing remarkable in it at all.  People in power have a hard time understanding it when the voters turn on them. They carry on with their schemes, convinced in their own rightness.  It’s a form of self-delusion.  It’s what the mind does to help people cope when what they believe and what is true are two radically different things.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: JM’s assessment of the UARB Decision #nlpoli

According to the commentator JM, the implementation of the Utility and Review Board conditional approval will mean that “Nova Scotia will receive 60% of the power, for what amounts to about 30% of the cost” of the Muskrat Falls project.

Using information provided by Nalcor to the Public Utilities Board, JM concludes that “there is a potential 37% increase in the incremental rates charged to Newfoundland and Labrador ratepayers for Muskrat Falls Energy” if Nalcor meets the UARB condition.

This would be reduced to a 10% increase if all export revenue in the early years of the project were used to offset the burden on the Newfoundland and Labrador ratepayers. This is assuming that the Holyrood thermal plant can be decommissioned as per the original plan. If the allocation of additional power to Nova Scotia results in Holyrood’s life being extended beyond 2021, then these rates will potentially further . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: JM’s assessment of the UARB Decision #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Another job and a business case #nlpoli

One Conservative Kathy gave Ross Reid a new job recently. 

Last January, your humble e-scribbler had another job in mind for Reid.

Kathy came really close.

Right floor.  Wrong office.

And then there’s the other Cathy who told us a few months ago that there were multiple, interlocking business cases for Muskrat Falls.  A couple of weeks ago, she’d whittled it down to just one business case.

She still hasn’t been willing to tell us what they are or it is.

In any event, there is just one business case for Muskrat Falls, as your humble (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Time to re-think dam costs #nlpoli #nspoli

They call it Site C.

No, it isn’t a sequel to Jurassic Park or The Lost World.

Site C is a 900 megawatt hydroelectric dam project in British Columbia that BC Hydro originally estimated would cost $6.0 billion. The provincial government shielded the project from scrutiny by the provincial utilities regulator.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Nalcor’s Complaints to the Regie #nlpoli

Last week, the Quebec Superior Court dismissed a motion to hear an appeal from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro over decisions taken by the Quebec’s energy regulator in 2010.

As NTV reported on Friday, “Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro asked for transmission access from Hydro-Québec TransÉnergie in January 2006. But Nalcor says it was met with delays, so it appealed to Quebec’s version of the Public Utilities Board, the Régie de l’énergie.”

That’s a fair, if very general,  account of the dispute.  You can see the same thing in the other media, such as the CBC’s online account.   The Telegram editorial on Monday described the dispute this way – “the Régie de l’énergie rejected all requested corridors for transmitting power through Québec” -  although that isn’t even close to what actually happened. 

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Don’t tell the Newfoundlanders – Uncle Gnarley version #nlpoli

If you want some really sharp insight into the latest developments in the Muskrat Falls saga, check out the Thursday post at Uncle Gnarley titled “Don’t tell the Newfoundlanders”.

Don’t stop when you get to the end.

Read the comments.  There are 10 more from different people who add even more insight. Here’s a sample:


The Emera application  was issued on January 28, 2013.

As soon as the carrot of Figure 4-4 was put in front of the UARB, Nalcor should have realised they were going to grab it, and refuse to give the carrot (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Relative Costs #nlpoli

Leave entirely to one side the spectacle of the guy who gets paid as the consumer advocate sitting there on the CBC flailing his arms around explaining Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s latest rate request.

Tom Johnson sounded like a Hydro spokesperson as he went on about things called “puts” and how this sort of cost was up, and this was offset by something else.  Prices on the island would go down, therefore, while in Labrador, where the issues are different, costs would go up.

Johnson did a better job of defending Nalcor than he did during Muskrat Falls.

Leave that to one side.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Cabana Cases #nlpoli

For those who want to read them, here are two decisions related to Brad Cabana’s recent Muskrat Falls case.

The first is the decision on his application to have the judge remove herself from the case:

Cabana v. Newfoundland and Labrador, 2013 NLTD(G)36

[61] Accommodating the shortcomings of a self-represented litigant does not extend to permit the Court to apply a different set of principles to the adjudication of the merits of the case or any part thereof.  I conclude that Mr. Cabana has not established that informed, reasonable and right-minded people could conclude in the circumstances (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Voids and Spatter #nlpoli

Watch too many crime shows and after a while a few of the ideas start to sing into your skull.

Take blood spatter for example.  In some kinds of violent death, lots of blood will fly around.  The drops leave a distinctive spray pattern that can tell you lots about what went on. 

And then there is sometimes the bits of the pattern that are missing.  There is sometimes a void, a gap where something that the blood spattered on is missing.

The void – the missing stuff  – sometimes tells much more than what is there.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Yakabuski nails it… again. #nlpoli

Konrad Yakabuski warned in 2006 that Newfoundland and Labrador would probably get a huge financial shock  trying to develop the Lower Churchill on its own.

Now, the knowledgeable Globe and Mail correspondent is back again with the observation that revenge motive behind Muskrat Falls is not a very successful business strategy… for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Consider this a public service for all those people who tweeted his commentary over the weekend thinking that he was chastising Hydro-Quebec.

Guess again.


The Sir Robert Bond Papers: More Gil Bennett nuttiness #nlpoli

Gill Bennett is a smart guy.  That’s why he is in charge of a project as large as Muskrat Falls.

So when Gil Bennett says something that obviously is not true, it looks a lot more suspicious than when he dodges the important question and answers the question no one asked.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Look to Quebec courts, not prov gov for disclosure: Marshall #nlpoli

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador won;t get information on Muskrat falls water management from the provincial government or its energy corporation.

They should wait to hear about things in Quebec courts, according to Tom Marshall, the Newfoundland and Labrador energy minister.

Marshall was responding to a call by former Premier Brian Peckford for the provincial government to release information about the province’s position on a recent Hydro-Quebec lawsuit against Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation.

Here’s a bit of the Telegram story:

Marshall said that citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador can absolutely know what the government’s case is, as long as (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Dunder-Dex offside with Emera #nlpoli #nspoli #cdnpoli

Premiers Kathy Dunderdale and Darrell Dexter may be telling everyone that the Maritime Link can;t be stopped but the private sector company involved in the project said in June there is no plan on what to do if the Nova Scotia utilities regulatory ultimate turns thumbs down on the Link proposal.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The price of a dam #nlpoli

If crap was electricity,  Nalcor would have the market cornered.

Da byes running the Muskrat falls project are very good at spewing words but very bad at saying things that have meaning.

Case in point; last fall in the controversy over the water management agreement, chief Muskrat Falls guy Bennett was always ready to insist Nalcor was lily white and had no bad intentions. 

The lawyers in the 2041 Group suggested it would be prudent to confirm the Nalcor interpretation with a legal reference.   After all, there was always the possibility Hydro-Quebec had another view and might take action. Bennett the engineer blew off any thoughts of any legal problem with everything but a contemptuous pfft.

The thing is that Bennett kept avoiding the simple question and answering the irrelevant one. The post in which your humble e-scribbler pointed out this problem has been the most popular post here . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The price of a dam #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Like water for muskrats #nlpoli

Wednesday it was Kathy Dunderdale.

Thursday, they sent Tom Marshall to chat with Bill Rowe on Open Line to do damage control in the wake of two huge setbacks for the Muskrat Falls project.

Some people thing Tom is a good spokesperson because he talks in soft tones.  But truth be told, Tom’s really a bit of a train wreck.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Bubbles and the Politics of Neener-Neener-Neener #nlpoli

Kathy Dunderdale called Bill Rowe on Wednesday to have one of her periodic core dumps on what is going on in the universe.

When the talk turns to Muskrat Falls, there’s this truly bizarre moment. She told Rowe about having a chat at some provincial premiers’ gather with Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest about how they might work together to bring Gull Island power to Ontario, through Quebec. 

According to Dunderdale, Charest lamented the cost of the 1969 power contract on the relationship between Quebec and its neighbour Newfoundland and Labrador.  Charest warned their fellow premiers against the sort of bickering that had gone on for decades.  Given that Charest died a horrible political death shortly after, the story has eerie echoes of Yul Brynner after he’d died of lung cancer coming back to life in a film clip to warn people against the evils of smoking.

As freaky . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Bubbles and the Politics of Neener-Neener-Neener #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Hydro-Quebec Statement of Claim #nlpoli

Via labradore, the statement of claim filed on behalf of Hydro-Quebec earlier this week.

You can search it and read it in English.  Those of you using Chrome will find the translation very simple.

If the text here is too small, then click on the title – Hydro-Quebec Statement of Claim by labradore – and go straight to Scribd.


The Sir Robert Bond Papers: There’s desperate and then there’s Dunderdale #nlpoli

Take away the bluster:  “The agenda won’t be set by Quebec in terms of how we do our work, how we develop our resources, and how we access markets.”

Take away the old fairy tales :  “I would characterize this as a desperate move by a company that’s been trying one way or the other to thwart development on the lower Churchill for a number of years, unless it was clearly in the best interests of the people of Quebec.”

Dispose of all the crap and what’s left of Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s comments on the Hydro-Quebec legal challenge about the 1969 is very few words that reveal much.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: UARB: “substantial uncertainty” about Nalcor supply of market-priced energy #nlpoli

You can read the full decision by the UARB (pdf) but here are some points to note.

Right off the bat, you will see in the full report that Nova Scotia consumers had the benefit of reviews by several consultants all of which are included in the UARB report.  This stands in stark contrast to the rigged reviews conducted in Newfoundland and Labrador before the final approval by the provincial government. 

Right off that the bat, that means that the public interest was far better served in Nova Scotia than it was at any point during the past decade in dealing with the Lower Churchill.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Pride goeth, more undisclosed risk, and all that #nlpoli

There are so many ways that Ed Martin, his crew at Nalcor, and the provincial Conservatives and all their supporters have screwed themselves and local ratepayers it is getting harder to tell which one is worse.

On Monday, the Nova Scotia regulator approved the Maritime Link but only condition that Emera secure enough extra electricity at market rates to make the project the lowest cost option.  Meanwhile in Quebec, Hydro-Quebec announced it was seeking a court opinion on its right to access virtually all the output from Churchill Falls.

The interplay of the two things could work together to deliver a horrible result for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Hydro-Quebec to seek clarity on contract rights #nlpoli

From Hydro-Quebec:

MONTREAL, July 22, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ – Hydro-Québec is filing a motion today with the Québec Superior Court to obtain a declaratory judgment. The company is asking the Court to confirm that two recent positions taken by CF(L)Co with respect to the Churchill Falls Contract (the Contract) are ill-founded. The Québec Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction to rule on any dispute arising out of the Contract. It should be noted that the Contract will be automatically renewed in 2016, for a 25-year period ending in 2041.

1 – Energy deliveries to which Hydro-Québec is entitled Under the (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: History’s Bitch #nlpoli

A half century ago, a bunch of very smart fellows – some of the smartest fellows of any generation ever – wanted to build a massive  plant in the middle of Labrador to make electricity.

One of the problems the project faced was a combination of costs and markets.  As Philip Smith recounts in Brinco:  the story of Churchill Falls,  the very smart men were concerned right from the start that nuclear power offered an almost unbeatable alternative to hydroelectricity for generating large amounts of electricity at relatively low cost.  The markets needed power and nuclear could do it cheaper.

Nuclear power also had a huge advantage hydro couldn’t match:  you can turn the plant on and off when you wish.  With hydro, you can make power only when you have the water.  Even with a massive reservoir, the generating output of the plant will go up and down during . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: History’s Bitch #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Telly exclusive on SNC Lavalin???? #nlpoli

Screaming headline across the top of the front page of the Saturday Telly:

SNC-Lavalin shut out of Hydro-Quebec projects

And right underneath,  the claim that it is a Telegram exclusive.

That would be right except for the fact someone else reported it months ago.

The problems first surfaced in April, as reported by Radio-Canada.

And La presse had the specific Muskrat Falls angle in early May. The recent decision on the Romaine project reported on Saturday by the Telly is just the same as the La Presse story…only much later.

Where’s the exclusive?


The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Yvonne – math #nlpoli

Liberal member of parliament Yvonne Jones is pissed off.

She told VOCM that “there are 1,016 people that are payrolled  [sic]under the Muskrat Falls project. 201 of those are Labradorians. So we have less than 10 per cent of Labrador people employed as part of that project.”

She said that was unacceptable.

Someone forgot to point out to the mathematically challenged politician that 201 is a teensy bit shy of 20% of 1,016.

Not less than 10%.

But about double that.

19.7% to be super-accurate.

So if someone pointed out to Jones that there are twice as many (Read more…)