Rethink Muskrat Madness

As construction spending on Canada’s largest green energy project — the 824 MW Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project in Labrador undertaken by the provincial government’s energy agency Nalcor — continues, the profoundly harmful character of the project is becoming increasingly obvious. Here are four recent sources updating different aspects of the project that help to explain the scope of the crisis at Muskrat Madness:

– a survey of recent construction developments authored by Des Sullivan, AKA the inestimable Uncle Gnarley, (here)
– a follow-up post by Cabot Martin, a lawyer and former public servant with an investment background in geology and author of the monograph “Muskrat Madness” (here)
– a historical review of the 1969 contract between Hydro-Quebec and Newfoundland with a plea for cooperation and understanding between the provinces and a particular plea for a comprehensive review of whether to finish Muskrat Falls authored by retired Hydro-Quebec financial expert Bernard Lahey (link), and
– an analysis of the implications for power system reliability in Newfoundland arising from the August 8, 2016 Quebec Superior Court decision on the Upper Churchill contract authored sustainable energy consultant Philip Raphals (here with a slightly updated version available below).

These new documents suggest that the current official $11.7 billion cost estimate as reported by the Globe and Mail today has been overtaken by events, that the project potentially poses a risk to the downstream public and worker safety, that the dependable generation capacity likely from Muskrat is far less than official claims, and NL’s necessary partner to make Muskrat physically deliver reliable capacity — Hydro-Quebec — has a long list of reasons to prefer to not be involved. Continue reading ‘Rethink Muskrat Madness’ »

Promoting Energy Illiteracy

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) says it is “committed to increasing energy literacy and providing consumers with reliable information.” As part of this commitment, it has published a rate comparison report here. The OEB’s report appears to be a reply to my power rates comparison analysis available here and published three days before the OEB’s.

There are five problems with the OEB’s version, all of which have the effect of understating the power rate problems most Ontario consumers face. Continue reading ‘Promoting Energy Illiteracy’ »

Ontario’s Power Rates Not the Highest in North America

Hydro Quebec’s annual electricity survey is a nearly perfect method to compare residential power rates across the provinces in Canada. Unfortunately, Hydro Quebec’s survey is a poor guide to how Canadian rates compare to US rates because the survey cherry picks a handful of relatively small jurisdictions, most of which have outlier high rates. Hydro Quebec’s survey is also a poor guide to industrial rates in Ontario and Alberta. Continue reading ‘Ontario’s Power Rates Not the Highest in North America’ »

Hydro Quebec to the Rescue? (podcasts)

Linked here are a couple of podcasts discussing the deal announced on Thursday, October 20 between the Ontario and Quebec governments on electricity exchanges.

Here is Energy Minister Glen Thibeault trying to skate away from questions from CFRA radio’s Kristy Cameron on the savings he is claiming households will get from the deal. If the government’s claim of $10 million in annual savings is to be believed, consider that Ontario’s 4.7 million residential consumers constitute about a third of the total demand, implying a savings of about 6 cents per month per household.

My interview with Bill Kelly of AM900 CHML is available here. Select October 21, 10-11am. Rough notes of the interview’s contents with time stamps follows. Continue reading ‘Hydro Quebec to the Rescue? (podcasts)’ »

Bright Public Utility Regulation Against #darknl

Widespread and extended supply blackouts struck the island of Newfoundland in January 2013, January 2014, and March 2015. Each time, in the order of half the island was blacked out with many customers in the freezing darkness for more than 48 hours. A report from the Newfoundland & Labrador Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities — often called the PUB — issued September 29 found widespread deficiencies within the provincial government-owned energy holding company Nalcor’s electricity operation, Newfoundland Hydro.

Outside of Newfoundland, there may be few people who care much about these events. I suggest however, that anyone who cares about the standards of good utility practice and also good utility regulator practice spend the few minutes it will take to read at least a couple of paragraphs of the next 1700ish words in this long-winded post. Continue reading ‘Bright Public Utility Regulation Against #darknl’ »

Windstream NAFTA Suit – Interview Podcast and Summary (Corrected)

What follows is a summary of the Q and A I had with Scott Thompson of 900AM CHML in Hamilton on Friday, October 14 on the Windstream Energy NAFTA suit that resulted in a $28 million penalty to be collected against federal and/or Ontario taxpayers. Time stamps are also provided to aid flipping through the podcast. Continue reading ‘Windstream NAFTA Suit – Interview Podcast and Summary (Corrected)’ »