Monday, 15 October 2018

WILLIAMS TAKES WRONG PATH TO REDEMPTION


Danny Williams' inability to address the issues raised in the Grant Thornton Forensic Audit or answer for why the Commission of Inquiry is unable to find any detailed analysis performed by his Administration on the Muskrat Falls project seems not to have inspired in himself even a moment of reflection. Rather, he returned to the Inquiry evidently for his pound of flesh as early critics, David Vardy and Ron Penney, sat in front of the Commissioner, too.
Williams could be seen lurking on the sidelines, the former Premier still hoping that some of his dignity might yet be salvaged. He was waiting for his brother, Tommy, to land a few body blows on Vardy and Penney. He left disappointed. 
Observing Tommy brought to mind a well-known citation attributed to Napoleon, one I had hoped our legal counsel would be mindful of. A paraphrasing of the adage might read: never interrupt your adversary when he is in the process of self-destruction. 

Thursday, 11 October 2018

NEEDLES IN HAYSTACKS AN ON-GOING ACCOUNTABILITY PROBLEM


Guest Post by PlanetNL
PlanetNL16: Needles in Haystacks, Symptoms of An Ongoing Accountability Problem
Participants and followers of the Muskrat Inquiry and earlier Muskrat reviews suffer simultaneously from information overload and yet a dearth of the vital information they are often seeking.  Nalcor and Government may have provided reams of materials but much of it is window dressing that gives little insight into key decision-making issues.  Take for example the Commissioner’s direct message to former Premier Williams that there is no evidence of anyone inside Government performing a critical review of Muskrat information supplied by Nalcor.

Too often it appears that the more important the issue, the less there is to be found.  In today’s post we revisit the issue of post-Muskrat rates being based on a two-tier declining rate scheme as a tiny but significant new nugget of information has been found about it.  Such a rate scheme would be a huge change in policy and one deserving of considerable study, yet it was buried in a mundane technical report with no basis of justification or analysis to defend it.
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Monday, 8 October 2018

FIVE WORRYING TAKEAWAYS FROM DANNY WILLIAMS’ TESTIMONY

Former premier Danny Williams fired back at critics at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry calling their opposition to the project "reckless, irresponsible and shameful." Williams went so far as to term them “bottom feeders”. Even the Uncle Gnarley Blog earned his wrath referred to as “Uncle Nobby, Nutty or whatever”. Eventually, it seems, the Commissioner had heard enough. This is an excerpt: 


But Mr. Williams we are living in a democratic society so you being a politician in the past would know that there are people who are going to agree with you and people who are going to disagree with you. So people have a right, I assume, to disagree and while you may not like the tenor of their statements I suspect that, in a democracy, we have to give people the right to express their views. – Judge Richard LeBlanc
The Commissioner’s rebuke of Williams’ disparagement of Muskrat Falls’ critics was one noteworthy moment of Williams’ testimony last Monday and Tuesday, October 1 and 2.   

Thursday, 4 October 2018

MISSED OPPORTUNITY: SCUTTLING OF THE 2002 GULL ISLAND FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT

Guest Post by Ron Penney
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: THE SCUTTLING OF THE 2002 FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT FOR DEVELOPMENT OF GULL ISLAND 


The full development of the Lower Churchill consists of two projects: Gull Island and the much smaller Muskrat Falls project. Gull Island is projected to be a 2250 megawatt project as compared to the Muskrat Fall’s 824 megawatts. Gull Island was always felt to be the far more economic project.

In 2002 a draft Framework Agreement was negotiated with Hydro Quebec to develop Gull Island. A link to that agreement is found here.

At the time, the then Chair of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dean MacDonald, and another Board member, Mark Dobbin, broke with the rest of the Board, and opposed the agreement. The then Leader of the Opposition, Danny Williams, became aware of the agreement and mounted a vigorous and ultimately successful campaign to scuttle the agreement.

This represented the most recent attempt to develop Gull Island and led directly to the Muskrat Falls debacle.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

FIRST THOUGHTS OF MUSKRAT INQUIRY


When former Premier Danny Williams stood to be Sworn-In before Inquiry Commissioner, Judge Richard LeBlanc, last Monday, thoughts of Hans Christian Andersen’s memorable phrase – the Emperor has no clothes - was difficult to suppress. 

The moment had nothing to do with the witnessing of the diminutive former Premier being held to account. Rather, it was the recall of a phrase spoken by a child in the Danish novel who in his innocence described what he saw. “But he isn’t wearing anything at all”, the child exclaimed. It was the one truth that every one of the emperor’s subjects had been afraid to utter.

Monday, 1 October 2018

UNCLE GNARLEY BLOG LOOKS AT ITSELF AT SYMPOSIUM

Comments for Muskrat Falls Symposium sponsored by the Sociology Department of Memorial University organized under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Crocker:

I have been asked to discuss the Uncle Gnarley Blog and the impact it might have had on public understanding of the Muskrat Falls project. I will be careful not to perform an appraisal best left to others.

One might ask: why blog anyway? It’s a lot of work. One reason was that no clairvoyance was required to see that this project would end badly and those who saw it that way had an obligation to warn the public.  The business case could not stand up to scrutiny.   Those responsible needed to be held to account.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

FORENSIC AUDIT ONLY SCRATCHES SURFACE OF SANCTION COSTING ERRORS

Guest Post by PlanetNL

Planet NL15: Forensic Audit Only Scratches Surface of Sanction Costing Errors

The release of the Grant Thornton report on Friday raised serious doubts about Nalcor’s pre-sanction justification for the Muskrat Falls project.  The report indicated enough areas where weakly constructed assumptions would add up to show that the Muskrat Interconnected option would not be the least cost alternative compared to the remaining Isolated Island option.

Despite these very persuasive snapshots, the Inquiry may only have gotten just what it asked in terms of the forensic audit’s time and budget limitations from a team with little experience in electricity utilities.  The story is not yet complete enough and the Commission should pursue reconstruction of Nalcor’s cost models using an extensive revised set of assumptions developed by an experienced utility consultant.  It’s a significant undertaking but one that appears essential to allow the Commissioner to concisely explain the project’s economic fallacy.
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