During the current New Brunswick provincial election campaign, the Progressive Conservative (PC) party commissioned a report on the province’s gas and electricity future and then adopted the main recommendation of the report — a rate freeze for electricity.
I commented on the report in a column in the Saint John Telegraph Journal newspaper “Energy rates can’t be frozen responsibly,” Sept. 11, 2010.
The authors of the PC’s report, Darrell Stephenson and Pierre-Marcel Desjardins, counter attacked in a column on Friday September 24, 2010 called, “Keep debate constructive”. The authors acknowledge correctly that I have been publishing commentaries and analysis of New Brunswick’s energy situation for 15 year. These statements have warned of severe mismanagement and generally unfavourable future prospects for the impact, particularly of the electricity sector, for the public interest.
Stephenson and Desjardins claim that my underlying complaint is “New Brunswickers are incapable of managing their own affairs.” This theme is consistent with observation that the groundswell of opposition to HQ/NB Power merger, proposed in late 2009, was rooted in injured provincial pride.
The single thread through all of my comments on New Brunswick’s energy problems for the last 15 years is not that New Brunswickers are somehow incapable of managing their own affairs, but that New Brunswickers have yet to develop a durable and resilient understanding of the line between politics and the energy business. By encouraging more political intervention in energy pricing, Stephenson and Desjardins perpetuate this problem.
The Globe and Mail newspaper discussed the role of electricity concerns in the election victory yesterday of the PCs under David Alward.
I commented on the problems with adopting a rate freeze in the Saint John Telegraph Journal, “Refit of nuclear plant still nowhere near completion”, October 4, 2010.