Newfoundland’s Electricity Future: Branding vs. Thinking

In today’s paper, Russell Wangersky, the St. John’s Telegram’s editorial page editor, surveys the credentials of some of the leading critics of the Newfoundland government’s plan to build a hydro-electric megaproject at Muskrat Falls on the Churchill River in Labrador.

One of the impressive arguments arrayed against the project is that in 2041, when the contract with Hydro Quebec for Upper Churchill finally expires, the province will have far more power than it will ever need. Minimizing costs over the next 29 years in a way that leaves the province unburdened by electricity liabilities in 2041 would appear to be a sensible strategy. The government’s current Muskrat Falls plan would have the public on the hook for about $6 billion in liabilities for the project in 2041. This argument is articulated in greater detail here.

Premier Dunderdale’s Muskrat Falls chauvinism and obduracy is amazing to behold. In the 2011 provincial election, she branded her campaign as “New Energy” and committed to proceed with Muskrat Falls. Apparently “New Energy” doesn’t include new thinking.