Thursday, 12 January 2017

"OPEN LETTER" TO BERNARD COFFEY, CLERK OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL, NL


Guest Post By Concerned Newfoundlander and Professional Engineer


Mr. Bernard Coffey
Clerk
Executive Council
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Dear Sir:

Re:  If You Are Not Part Of The Solution, You Are Part Of The Problem

            I very much welcomed the announcement in September, 2016 of your appointment as Clerk of the Executive Council. Giving leadership to the day-to-day running of government is critical, especially in these challenging times. The Muskrat Falls project is certainly one of the government's many challenges. For that reason, I was looking forward to your assuming the role of Chair of the Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee and to much needed change.

            As you know, this Committee was set up in March of 2014 by then Premier Tom Marshall. Ostensibly, he was responding to citizens’ concerns over how poorly the project was managed, to the enormous cost overruns and delay in the project schedule.

The Oversight Committee was touted by the Minister of Natural Resources, at the time, as having an independent oversight role, one akin to that performed by the PUB. The current Premier, then Liberal leader of the Opposition, Dwight Ball, expressed the position that a committee of bureaucrats reporting to Cabinet is merely window dressing. As far as I can see, he was dead right.

            Indeed, in contrast to its original billing, the Oversight Committee has functioned at a level even below window dressing. The few Reports it has issued mimic the words of Nalcor and provide no independent review of any of Nalcor’s data, contracts, costs projections or even schedule projections. None of the Reports contain analysis or forward thinking, nor the kind of commentary one would expect from a group providing independent oversight.

Incredibly, the Oversight Committee failed to predict the massive cost overruns or any of the schedule delays. This record suggests a standard of oversight that is even worse than the fox overseeing the chicken coop. 

The last Committee Report is dated December, 2015. It is now over one year old. The people of the province were promised independent oversight reports on a quarterly basis. Though committed by Premier Ball this has not occurred. The complete absence of reports is unacceptable. 

There is a huge list of things this Committee should have done - and could still do - to give guidance to the management team and to help the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador understand how we have become part of a “boondoggle” - a budget breaking project. 

In the last year or so, we have seen the departure of former CEO Ed Martin and the arrival of his replacement, Mr. Stan Marshall. Gilbert Bennett has had his role cut in half and he has been promoted from the position of Vice President to the role of Executive Vice President of Nalcor. It is this man whose sole responsibility is the delivery of the Muskrat Falls Project. But Gilbert Bennett, alone, could not have created such a poorly managed project.  

According to Nalcor documents, there are 468 staff personnel on the Project. For the most part, these are the same people who worked on the Project prior to sanction. They are the same group who made decisions relating to packaging of the work, the selection of SNC-Lavalin, size of contracts, tendering methods, labour site agreement, cost estimates, and risk analysis, etc. We were assured that risks would be reduced by front end engineering. 

Yet we are saddled with contracts requiring huge settlements - such as the one reached with Astaldi - and technical breaches such as a leaking coffer dam, and unravelling conductors on the LIL, to name just two. Why should we still trust these people to complete this Project?

Mr. Coffey, my request is that you immediately reform the Oversight Committee into a group of experts who can challenge the information presented by Nalcor. They must be capable of making recommendations and providing instructions regarding how Nalcor should change their management practices and change the unsuitable people still occupying management positions.

A committee of accountants adding up overruns provides no real value. What the public needs is a real oversight group who will find the mistakes, the conflicts of interest, the poorly written tenders, and the nonsensical tendering methods. All of this needs to be exposed for everyone to see - because the public is on the hook for all of the mistakes, the inexperience, and management's missteps.

Please make the next Report something that you would be proud to put your name on. 

Let it reflect the standard of review and investigation the Premier promised two years ago.

Alternatively, if the government is not serious about providing oversight of this project, shut down the Committee down. I suggest it is better that the public received none than to be given the mere appearance of oversight - one that is distainful of the public interest and is false.

Signed,

Concerned Newfoundlander and Professional Engineer

60 comments:

  1. love how this is "signed" -might as well be anonymous.

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  2. Sorry, the post is a waste of time.

    Signed,
    A thinking organism and loyal reader of Uncle Gnarley.

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  3. The fact that "Concerned Newfoundlander and Professional Engineer" chooses to remain anonymous speaks volumes. Corruption within the system of government, crown corporations, consultancies, and private enterprises is endemic. Newfoundland is a kleptocracy.

    John D Pippy

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    1. I am an engineer in NL and I wouldn't use my name either -- at least until I am sure that I will never need another engineering job in NL, ever. Posting here can get you blacklisted.

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  4. Challenging Coffee to act in the interest of NL ratepayers is far from a waste of time.

    Making the "oversight committee" functional is long overdue. Challenging Coffee to act given his apparent concerns is timely.

    It is time to smell the Coffee and ask where is the beef?

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  5. Had the coffee and the beef, can I see the report now. If not, when will the report be released? Hum more coffee.

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  6. Ever since muskrat falls was born I have seen a parade of professional people state how this project should be run or not run......If I was that smart on the ins and outs of this project as I read here everyday I would get my self involved on behalf of all Newfoundlanders...There has been many comments by these anonymous experts I just wonder out loud why they are not a part of this so called failure and become a leader and fix it.....

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    1. How do you lead change at MF when the government is corrupt and PEGNL is useless and going public on any issue covered in this blog will get you disciplined if you work for Gov NL or MUN and blacklisted by private industry? Journalism in the corporate media is dead which is why 90% of the population aren't against the project. NTV/VOCM/CBC want low information voters and disable comments. I and others I know have had our continued employment threatened for speaking out. I've met with politicians to see what I could do about this and am convinced that nothing will change from within the system. Those with the power to stop MF or change the status quo are currently profiting from it and even our finance minister has a stake in MF contractors (Sunny Corner).

      Only retired professionals are safe to speak out. Anywhere else in Canada you might have a chance, but not on with our tiny population and corruption. We need radical political change. If I was in power, I would fire all the deputy ministers, ADM's and directors as well as the boards at Nalcor and MUN. Then I'd hire competent people and rebuild. The book Against the Tide: Battling for Economic Renewal in Newfoundland and Labrador by Doug House is worth reading.

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    2. That's my point ....You have the ability and knowledge so run and make change..That was my point from the beginning good people and professional people need to run and change the thinking of idiot after idiot who drives this province into the ground...That would be a start...Now let me comment on your point that if you speak up you are black listed from working in the province....I'm not a man of degrees and have worked with my hands in the oil industry for 45 years..Just a mere tradesmen from the bay who wanted to work and went west to avoid becoming a welfare recipient.....When the Hibernia project was born I returned from alberta on notice from a friend and was excited to work for a decent wage in my home province....There is to much info to lay out here now and I will try to make it as brief as I can...The government..the Hibernia group of contractors..the union and a consultating firm set up group of 110 welders to train at the college for work at Hibernia...This training would last 3 months with a trip to burin for more testing at our expense.....The course was funded by tax payers dollars...The Hibernia group informed the people involved after 6 days to stop the project....It continued to the end with no jobs produced and a million dollars spent...I and a few others challenged this charade and wanted answers....We filed a complaint in the supreme court of newfoundland for breaking the contract that was agreed to by all parties.... The case was dragged out 5 years and in the end I received a letter from our lawyer informing me that I was the last man standing and was told I would have to pay court cost if I lost...Being a mere mortal I folded In anger and withdrew....At that time I had been told by certain people that I would never work in newfoundland again and I would be black listed on every job in the province.....Well they were telling the truth it happened....I have applied for many projects since that time and its always the same answer.....Sorry we don't need your services....Today if any of those people are following this blog I want to let you know that you never broke my spirit or my pride for standing up to people who put themselves in a suit and crush little people.... I would never hide my identity no matter what position I held and I have suffered those words you have spoke of in your post....Being a lowly tradesmen I had lots to lose in the oil industry....When I believe in a cause that I know is right and just I will fall on the sword for it......To those people again I have worked 45 years in alberta ...raised my family.....made a lot of money and now I can enjoy newfoundlands beauty in peace.....

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  7. On December 21, 2015 the new Liberal government announced an independent review of the Muskrat Falls project by Ernst and Young. The review was to be completed in March of 2016. On April 8, 2016 an interim report was made public. It had been intended that the EY report would provide an update on cost and scheduling. Instead it reported that the estimated costs released by Nalcor in September of 2015 were completed outdated and that the schedule for full power would be delayed. The interim report disclosed a number of telling revelations about the management of the project and made recommendations for improvements related to the creation of contingency reserves along with project governance, reporting and oversight.
    I wrote the Minister and inquired as to the status of the project. It now appears that this project has been aborted. I also asked the Minister about the status of the recommendations made by EY but have yet to hear back. Along with the inactivity of the Oversight Committee and their reliance on information supplied by Nalcor the failure to complete the EY report is a matter of concern. Of even greater concern is the fact that the removal of the Muskrat Falls project from the jurisdiction of the PUB and the creation of Nalcor as an unregulated company remain unaltered by the new government. Similarly the retrogressive legislation enacted by the previous government remains on the books. This legislation enshrines the monopoly power of Nalcor and prevents competition in the market for electric energy.
    Government has become a prisoner of the decisions of the former governments. By failing to take action they are losing the opportunity to change direction. They need to undertake a much broader review than that originally scoped out for Ernst and Young and examine all the options. The recommendations made by EY need to be implemented. The oversight role of the PUB should be restored. The value of contracts awarded should be disclosed. We await the promised “opening of the books” on Muskrat Falls as well as the audit of this project by the Auditor General. David Vardy

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    1. I suspect that government did the same to the EY report as Nalcor attempted to do with the last IE (Independent Engineer's) report --- bury it.

      Both reports no doubt contained information that government and Nalcor wanted to keep out of the public domain.

      After all, Dwight Ball was groomed by the Liberal Party to be leader and then premier, with his main goal, not to do what was and is in the best interest of the people, but to do what the party wanted, especially to get Muskrat done --- no matter what the cost to the people, no matter if we needed it or not, no matter if it could produce any power or not, no matter if it is safe or not.

      To date, opposition to this project has been stifled, limited, and disjointed -------- and accordingly, largely ineffective (although I do believe it has been very effective in helping inform our fellow citizens and I think the latest poll showing that more people now oppose this project is evidence of that).

      In the absence of significant opposition by the people, I suspect that it will take some form of 'significant event' to change the course this province has been on since the days of Danny Williams. Maurice Adams, Paradise

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    2. I assume that the Legislature is not yet open. When it does, would it not be prudent to ensure that Question Period raises a formal request for the Government to "open the books"?

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    3. Interesting. But will it have any more impact than when Dwight Ball went through the charade of opposing Muskrat Falls?

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  8. So has Coffee, a critic of MF, become a yes man, so business as usual?
    And it is unfortunate that engineers are in a positions that they feel they must keep their identity secret. Better to put out such an opinion than no opinion at all, as it seems 99 percent of engineers have no opinion that they will express on this boondoggle. It is good for most engineers that the money keeps flowing, and that accountability and ethics be dammed. Whether in public or private, most all are connnected to the public teat.
    Rather than a sure and steady economy, I fear all will go down together. Just yesterday we were informed of one established contractor on the Avalon closing up, and a second considering the same. These are regular mechanical contractors who work commercial and institutional buildings.They are not in financial trouble....just a lack of work. Seems there will little government money for ordinary work.
    Muskrat, a boondoggle at 12 billion . Sprung a boondoggle at 20 million. Muskrat is 600 Sprungs. And even Peckford said Muskrat was bad, if I recall correctly. He should know about boondoggles.
    Winston Adams

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  9. Yes. I seems everyone almost is afraid to speak out without fear of serious repercussions. Does anyone see the parallels here to the donald dumpty story?

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    1. I was thinking the same thing. If a police officer connected to the premiere can get away with shooting an elderly man in the head a few times, then why do we think we could convince corrupt politicians to put a stop to a gravy train that is feeding their donors, and in some cases, themselves. Maybe it is time we start referring to our government as a regime because it clearly does not represent the interests of the general population. All the political parties are currently the same. It is like we have a version of the US deep state that run things behind the scenes and come election time, were are offered pre-selected puppets to choose from.

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    2. If you like freedom from establishment control, then you got to like a Trump. He's appears to be a free man, and nobody's baby!

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  10. Here is a little good news, if you want to keep your electricity use for heating low, post Muskrat..........but it is bad news for the Nalcor and the government, and Nfld Power who want electricity use high.
    For those who are interested in our monitoring of heat use with minisplits.
    We have separate units serving the north side from the south side, so can monitor them separately.
    Yesterday at -2C we are heating the south side with 240 watts, the north side with 460 watts . This house is 4000 sq ft.
    Yesterday was sunny, and these are heating loads from 11;30 am to 2;30 pm, and the house is south facing. This also shows the significant value of solar gain even in January, as the south side is using half the energy of the north side.
    Both units have a total load of 700 watts . This is 2.9 amps for heat. The house has a 200 amp panel. I expect we may hit a need of 17 amps when at -15C
    This house could easily make do with a 100 amp service. So TAKE CHARGE of your energy use and money folks, as the power companies are robbing us blind. They don't want energy efficiency, they don't want Demand management. they want MORE POWER, MUSKRAT POWER at DOUBLE THE RATES.
    Winston Adams

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    1. I have talked to the take charge leaders and what they want is us to use lots of electricity to displace oil / propane so that we lower CO2 emissions. The more electricity we use, they more Fortis profits. Conversely, they are in a conflict of interest in promoting demand reduction because they lose revenue. Worst case for them is a downward spiral where people install heat pumps / oil / propane / pellet / wood in mass and slash demand in half. If electric prices double and demand drops 50%, do they double the price again or take it out of healthcare and education?

      The average homeowner's goals are far more simple - we want to minimize the monthly utility payment so that we have cash for other things - like food.

      This anon and others have installed heat pumps, added insulation, air sealed, thermally imaged and blower door tested and added monitoring instrumentation before and after design changes, installed solar PV and evacuated tube solar collectors and drain water heat recovery. We have analyzed northern construction techniques including fantastic designs from Alaska (vapor diffusion open walls, storing hot water in summer for winter heat etc.) The knowledge is widely available yet we build in the dark ages and are lucky to find someone that can install a window properly (no leaks when vacuum tested) whether it be residential or commercial.

      I propose that we need someone who wants to build a new, modest, house in NL and isn't afraid to take a minor risk (that the local engineers volunteering their time aren't lunatics) to build a practical, showcase home so that the public can see what is possible in this climate. A lottery dream home designed to cost $100/mo on equal billing might work too. In return for the free consulting work and collaboration, the home design should then be open source so that other builders could try copying it. I think it would be a great gift to our society. It is also a shame that MUN engineering isn't spearheading something like this.

      I can give you readers a few ideas of the features such a home would have: Home would have less window area than usual, mostly facing south and very little if any northern glass. Windows would be coated and triple glazed. There is an interior wall as well as a separate exterior wall. Between these you have a few feet of insulation that would never fit in a tradition home. The attic is flat, covered with plywood so that the house is effectively and air sealed plywood box. A peaked roof is just on top of the box to shed snow and rain. It would have hot water floor heat and an air-to-water heat pump with a secondary heat source, such as masonry wood stove. If you added exterior thermal shutters that closed at night for the windows you could slash demand even more.If you chose a propane range and pellets instead of the heat pump, PV off grid would be possible. With a few attractive design details it could have some architectural flair.

      Unfortunately, the general population just doesn't care. Things are still too comfortable I guess.

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    2. Anom, there are many ideas which are effective for new housing.Some are better than others.
      1. You are right that they, Fortis and Nalcor, want to sell more electricity in Nfld, not less, they are in a conflict of interest.
      2. Homeowner just want to reduce electricity cost, but that is actually a two part process (a) better efficiency by various means,but also (b) it must reduce peak demand at low temperatures as about 25 percent of our costs are for back up thermal facilities and fuel. Homeowners do not understand this, but engineers, power companies and government should.... hence the importance of reducing peak demand on the grid
      3.I have incorporated double wall 20 years ago. Triple glaze windows and other things you mention is good for new construction.
      4. But we have 160,000 existing houses , 75 percent are old with some upgrades. Mini-split heatpump is the cheapest and most cost effective way to heat these houses to bring down demand over 8-10 years, and eliminate fuel burning at Holyrood. Other measures can add to this.
      5.You mention $100 monthly billing. For heat for a 30 year old house with upgrades plus mini-split I am achieving 26.00 per month for heating component for 1000 sq ft. This shows what is possible with existing houses.
      6.I do not advocate going off grid, but reducing loads so that our island hydro is sufficient.
      7. PV panels .... I think 1000 watts at a cost of about $3000 would be good as aiding winter heatpump load and for daytime to power heatpump if a power failure. Otherwise it is very expensive for going off the grid and for NET Zero houses.
      8.Rather than a standard house, I believe that we need testing for optimization of minisplits for existing various design house. This would be guidelines for contractors for best performance. At present , units are achieving only half their potential.Most constractors are in the dark as to best sizing and performance and operation and installation. And the power companies are no help.... worse than no help, as they want to discourage meaningful energy saving.
      8 MUN......You suggest should be spearheading something ...........agreed. As power companies and govn are not. As to my testing.........I intend to contact MUN to certify performance results I am doing, as results should be able to be duplicated if they are valid. Call it peer review. If they are interested they can call me, I am in the book. If necessary, I will pay them to review and certify the performance. They have expertise who can do this, but no one is doing it. Shame. Nfld Power took 3 years to do what was a sham research study that they could not defend, but served their purpose to sow doubt. End-use research is not in their mandate, as this represent best practices.........and who wants best practices! Second and third rate practice is ok for Nflders, or they must think so, as customers give them 90 percent satisfaction rating!
      We can follow efficiency and demand reduction or waste another 6-8 billion and double power rates plus raised taxes and reduced services for health etc.
      10. Those with interest need to join forces......but most of all is a change of government direction..........we are in the dark ages as to progress here on that front. Our new Consumer Advocate may be helpful, but time for corrective action is slipping by.
      Winston Adams

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    3. I agree with the idea of guidelines for mini-split contractors based on various house designs. Is there some listing of knowledgeable mini-split contractors? I have had several quotes but the contractors don't inspire confidence that they know what will work best.
      JDW

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  11. Just wonder, as it takes a lot for thousands to march against govn waste, and most now in Nfld agree that MF should be shut down , would a petition with thousands be useful? Or did Sue Dyer Kelland try that a t the early stage? I mean a door to door petition, and a well drafted one page explanation of what is the consequence of MF so they know what they are signing.
    Heck, Pete Sucey has twice of more mentioned whether we should join Quebec and let them govern us.....and there is no one I heard opposed to that.....goes to show that people are worried.

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  12. NALCOR can act proud that this bit of planned Atlantic Grid will profit Emera.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/halifax-based-emera-preparing-plans-for-atlantic-link-1.3931778

    Too bad that Hydro Quebec is already controlling the NE market supply from Churchill/Romaine, etc. Muskrat bypass of Great Northern Link soon to expected.

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  13. "HQ is already controlling the NE market supply from CF/Romaine..."

    Not sure I really understand what you mean here. The northeastern US market is open to anyone who can win those bidding processes, and most importantly, find room in the existing transportation grid.

    As Mr Lahey kindly explained us before, Quebec's/Maritime's existing interconnections are pretty much at capacity already.

    Any new sales (in excess to current exports) would require the construction of new transmission capacity. And this has been almost impossible to do in NY + New England states for the last few decades.

    That's were this new Emera $1.7-billion Atlantic Link/563-kilometre underwater transmission line (from NB to southern Massachusetts) is interesting. It might just crack that transmission bottleneck.

    Just wondering what will be the final costs when we include transmission losses etc.

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    1. Sorry, I meant Quebec's & Maritime's existing "US" interconnections are pretty much at capacity already.

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    2. Just tally up the wheeling fees and surprise surprise you will find them higher than the market value of the power. The cost of production is added to your loss.

      Can you do arithmetic? Need a slide rule?

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    3. The link to the USA Boston area is more than twice the distance of the Maritime link . At 900 MW it is 1.8 times the capacity, so bigger diameter or higher voltage and considerably more expensive it would seem. One would think this more than twice the cost of the maritime link ,but seems just 1.18 times the cost. So, it the Maritime link way overpriced?
      Winston Adams

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    5. Good observation Winston. I'm also curious to know.

      Anyways, if Emera can pull that one at the stated costs (and make a profit with the wheeling fees they collect); they are very clever! Good for them!

      Now, with a 900 MW capacity, there will definitely be some room left for other producers, like HQ - who will be happy to pay those wheeling fees.

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    6. I was of the opinion early on that the Maritime link was overpriced. Yet to put it out as a 1.5 or 1.7 Billion asset that after 35 years becomes a Nalcor asset (in exchange for 35 years of free energy, seemed like a promotional thing for sanction). So, do we know the actual contractural cost of the Maritime link, or is that secret by Emera?
      Winston

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    7. Muskrat data from 2010 showed that nova Scotia had 1432 MW of potentially retired generation....obvious most of this being coal fired.
      The 160MW block of Muskrat would offset a small portion of this. But for the extra power, above the 160 mW block, to go to Nova Scotia, contracted last year had a rationale that it would be available to anchor wind generation in Nova Scotia if that was to proceed.
      This had a logic, looking at how much coal generation there is in Nova Scotia. Generally you need a 1000MW of hydro to anchor 100 or 150 MW of wind.
      I would imagine that NS plus NB has in together about 6000MW of power. 10 percent of this would allow 600MW of wind, maybe much less in summer. So Hydro connection from Nfld is important for them to anchor substantial wind.
      What is surprising is that this wind is not to offset Nova Scotia coal to any extend, but to make profit by selling into the Boston market, to allow them to reduce green house gas from natural gas burning, while Nova Scotia continues to spew froom dirty coal. This feed to the USA will allow carbon credits for the wind generation fom Nova Scotia but maybe not for Hydro generation. As our Hydro going to Nova Scotia is island hydro, not MF hydro, it appears that our island hydro may not benefit from carbon credits. USA regulations require that only new hydro, not existing qualify for carbon credits.
      Nfld ratepayers screwed again by Nalcor? Just asking.Anyone in the know please weigh in.
      Winston Adams

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  14. RE:Pat Daley and Tom Adams on VOCM on Muskrat: Adams says the 12 billion capital cost is only part of the cost that ratepayers here will be on the hook for. Adams says there will be a large operating cost in addition, needed to compensate HQ.
    Adams explains that the study done by the Grand River group,filed with the PUB in Oct, confirms the low water flow at Muskrat without agreement with HQ, and as we need high water flow to maximize MF power in winter time , which is not when HQ may want to allow max water flow.
    Patey seemed unaware of the importance of this, but seems to agree with that. Adams and Daley agreed that the sunk cost argument is not a good reason not to reassess the wisdom of halting the project. Daley says he has been calling for Plan B to be costed for a long time.For a long time is in fact a couple of months, more or less, but Daley is more and more vocal for halt and reassessment.
    The low water flow issue mentioned by Tom Adams is also the rationale I used to get a figure of 1 million dollars to supply just 18 kw of capacity of power for heating for a single St. John's house. This is worst case and results from the false impression of MF to supply 824 MF instead of only 218 MW in winter for Nfld. Keep in mind that to offset Holyrood we need over 450 MW in winter, and now our ISLAND hydro is also to go to Nova Scotia in winter.
    Boondoggle is insufficient to describe this mess........Blunder comes to mind.
    Winston Adams

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  15. The proposed "Blue, submarine cable" Links seem to pre-suppose that Atlantic Canada will have an abundance of "qualified" renewable power to offset fossil fuel generation in New England. My point is that without Hydro Quebec and the supply monopoly they will control in the foreseeable, (100yr?), from Northern Quebec and Labrador, what will fill the Blue Links to NE, and what is to prevent more direct Blue Links say via Anticosti across the St. Lawrence?

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    2. "...what is to prevent more direct Blue Links say via Anticosti across the St. Lawrence?"

      Such a link would actually be much more expensive than other alternatives, requiring crossing the St. Lawrence (ok, easy), but also crossing all of Maine (and the extensive Appalachian).

      It's just way better/cheaper is to just go across Quebec (which grid is already robust/solid) and interconnect somewhere south of Montreal or Sherbrooke.

      Two interconnections projects are slowly progressing there(www.northernpass.us for New England and www.chpexpress.com for NYC).

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    3. Thanks Ex-Military. Do you then agree that the most efficient transmission routing to serve New England power needs from QC/Labrador, is already in place, and talk and investment in Atlantic Link is redundant?

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    4. Good question. For current capacity, obviously yes. For any new capacity from Labrador, not so sure anymore ;-)

      On the long run, I still believe it would be cheaper to go thru Quebec than going underwater, when we include transmission losses and the maintenance costs of underwater cablings (versus 735Kv).

      For upfront cost, HQ calculated it would have cost $3 Billion in improvements to accommodate peak MF production. We need more details in those "improvements" before using it for any comparisons.

      The two interconnection projects south of Montreal/Sherbrooke faces huge NIMBY oppositions and might never get constructed. If so, then no more room for additional exports to NY/New England via HQ.

      So that new Emera underwater proposal to New England might be the most clever solution afterall, if not the cheapest. (For sure, it would not meet many NIMBYs fish/lobsters...)

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  16. Thanks Robert for your clarification.

    I agree with you that HQ currently has the biggest chunk (monopoly? well not so much...) of surplus "qualified" renewable power to offset fossil fuel generation in New England. By the way, HQ made pretty intense lobby there to ensure that hydro qualifies as "renewable" (versus strictly wind/solar originally).

    However, above surpluses are not preventing anybody else to export renewable power (including from Labrador) to New England. We just need proper transmission & US interconnections to get it there.

    Emera is proposing an interesting solution. This new interconnection would only go ahead if Emera finds enough producers to fill 900 MW long term. Obviously, Emera's only way to repay this huge investment would be via pre-agreed wheeling fees.

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  17. Hope all are catching this related conversation;

    http://www.tomadamsenergy.com/2017/01/12/muskrat-madness-will-undermine-sovereignty-of-newfoundland-labrador/

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    1. Thanks for the link. Tom Adams is so brilliant, no BS and precisely to the point.

      Among other facts he brought:

      About what raising electricity rates will bring: "Falling usage of power means that costs are spread over declining units of sales, which further increases rates."

      And what will happen to big electric users like Come By Chance Refinery?

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  18. Also interesting when he says:

    "With the benefit of hindsight, Joey Smallwood’s deal around the Upper Churchill development are likely to be understood as wise nation building and economic development..."

    I tend to believe this the way we should remember it... And hey, 2041 is coming fast...

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  19. Always On the Sunny Side eh Ex?

    I see irony is not your bailiwick. You seem to love losing money for six decades to justify the two worst deals in NL history.

    Do you not understand that the era of remote large energy projects is over if the bottom line is a consideration. No privately owned utilities are dumb enough to go broke. Only disempowered rate/taxpayers kept in the dark and screwed by take or pay arrangements (see MF, Site C) proceed today.

    Renewable energy and battery storage render remote generation obsolete. They will never again compete in price. Why is that so hard to process?

    Reality trumps backward looking money losing strategies.

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    2. Haha, with the current foggy situation here, we've got to bring back the Sunny Side sometimes.

      "...losing money for six decades": No, CF is actually making a slim profit since day one. Can't say the same about MF.

      You probably meant six decades of (perceived) lost "opportunity".

      But then, about lost opportunities, we may also say that CF prevented HQ building James Bays years earlier, avoiding the costly construction years.

      James Bay would then have been the same low cost hydro facility that are Churchill Falls, Manic 5, Beauharnois etc. (Well, any hydro facilities built before the late 70's). As a bonus, HQ would have avoided all this court BS, and dealing with a middle entity instead of operating CF directly.

      Bruno, anyways we look at it, we CAN'T have it both ways. Really.

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    3. So, there were two choices, sign the contract in 1969 or wait after the James Bay to make a new sale pitch (with unknown results, new construction hyper inflation situation and the appearance of native demands phenomena!)

      You know what, I believe NL was very lucky to have built CF so early, and that HQ lost immensely by not having built James Bay earlier.

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  20. I agree Bruno. Distributed, small scale renewable based and Cogen generating power plants, (Central Heat and Power), interconnected with "Smart Grid", is the way to a more stable and cost effective systems.

    Provincial Power Utilities have led us into Site C/Muskrat type Boondoggles.

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  21. Coffer dam update;

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nalcor-continues-cofferdam-repairs-1.3934192

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  22. While you guys argue over which source of new generation is best, and that long distance transmission has extra costs associated to it, do you acknowledge the fact that efficiency measures(which reduce energy use and peak demand) are generally one third the price of any new generation source, and so happens less than one tenth the cost of MF power. And to Bruno point of cost of transmission (not only of towers and cables, but also transmission losses).......with efficiency measures, it works this way: I reduce my load from 10kw to 7 kw, this frees up 3kw on the system peak load. The remote plant had to produce more than 3 kw to allow for the lost energy getting to my house (through transmission lines, stepping up and stepping down through several transformers). So when you reduce the load at the end point, by the consumer, the power company also gains that transmission loss, and it can be profitable energy sold to a customer that is closer.
    For MF to the Avalon, the transmission loss is 8 percent, so if it could produce 824 MW, 66 MW is lost, and produces no revenue. At 12 billion cost, this transmission loss is 960 million of capital expenditure to allow for the transmission loss. It the load was in Goose bay, efficiency measures still apply , but the loss would be say only 2 percent. So reducing load through efficiency not only saves money for the customer, but reduces transmission losses. There are about 100 different efficiency measures, 8 or 10 which are very cost effective.......and generally very very much cheaper than new generation , whether solar , wind, battery storage, hydro or natural gas.
    This is why most every jurisdiction has Efficiency corporations, separate from the power companies.
    Then you apply the most cost effective efficiency measure , which often is climate dependent.
    If this is not apparent and understood as factual........I might as well give up. It is a part of Demand Management..... that our government has always opposed, I guess because it is good for customers and reduces income for power companies and government itself.
    Hence my testing that shows for electric heated house (4000sq ft) we reduce demand from 18 kw to 2 kw at -10C............. why this is important.
    In the 1960s 10 watts per sq ft was uses =40kw needed. By year 2000, R2000 construction , 18 kw instaleed but 9 kw actually needed. Same house with efficient heatpump, 4 kw needed at -20C. heat load reduced from what 50 years ago was 10 watts per sq ft to 1 watt per sq ft for heat.
    R2000 construction was $8000.00 Heatpump was 15,000.00, together 23,000.00 extra. 18kw of Mf power cost about 1 million just to get the capacity to the house. How much will wind or solar cost to get 9kw of heat needed to this house and be available 24/7
    Winston Adams

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  23. A great opportunity now presents itself for NL to develop the Gull Rapids site either going through Quebec or via Nova Scotia. It is new and wonderful that we now have choices. At the same time we can help save the planet from the ravages of the ever changing climate.

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    1. I totally agree this new Emera underwater transmission proposal (and its low cost as stated) seems to open up new choices.

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    2. New BAD choices. There are none so blind as those that will not see!

      Your daydreaming about UC shows how out of touch you are. Do the math and stop navel gazing.

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    3. Keep Holyrood going and you would not need Gull to supply the 900. All kinds of options sure.

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  24. We who comment on this blog show a keen interest in the Boondoggle of Muskrat. There are a few engineers.... the one who has written the latest post, there is John Pippy, who I believe is a civil engineer, there is Ex-Military Engr , there is Robert Holmes, and my background is electrical engineer,(ex Nfld Hydro) with mechanical experience and a little civil experience. There is Bruno, who comments on many technical issues, who is better than an engineer, as he is a John Lennon fan.
    The aim of this blog by Des Sullivan is to put Muskrat on ice, and rethink our energy strategy. So if Muskrat was shut down ....what then,.....we are back to square one, but it seems a new way forward would have less of an impact on our economy and could much reduce the expected double or more electricity rates.
    So, as engineers......what do you propose as the way forward to solve our electricity needs.
    As a starting point, last year January average peak demand was 1454 MW. This year so far it is 1476. Let us assume 1500MW Jan and Feb average load. We have about 1150 MW of island hydro (needs verification). We have 54 MW of wind. We have 465MW net thermal from Holyrood. We have two old gas turbnes each 50 mw, but derated some. We have one new gas turbine max rated a t 123 MW. The aim is to reduce the thermal energy needed, so little fuel is burned,....we want a green way forward. Ok engineers and others with ideas ........let`s hear from you. Perhaps other engineers will join the conversation. Our world class engineers from Nalcor has done a poor job, so what do you propose........
    Winston Adams, Logy Bay

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    1. Maybe a starting point is to prioritize the usage of on island power supply.

      Highest Priority to lowest priority;

      1. Emergency Services; Hospitals, Police, Search and Rescue, Seniors, Communications, etc. com
      2. Industrial, with preference to non polluting, green energy based systems.
      3. Transportation, electric vehicular, tramway, materials handling, storage, food supply and distribution.
      4. Residential, essential, lighting, air circulation exhaust, water & sewage, communications.
      5. Residential, ground source heating and cooling.
      6. Over to your best list.

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    2. I think that priority of end use is useful under emergency situations, but generally the cost of power to the consumer will determine the amount used, and each person , family or business determines priority. Like some are ok with a shower, others with a bath, others want a pool, Some want a unheated garage, some a 3 car heated garage.For the rich who want the 3 car heated garage , put on a demand meter, and pay accordingly. Much of what you suggest would follow from appropriate cost. One could preach green energy, but as long as dirty fuel is cheap it will dominate.
      So given our present hydro capacity, we can add some more hydro and some other green power while reducing demand at the same time, by some price increase to encourage better use of power through efficiency etc, is the goal i think.......and so how do we get the appropriate supply of power...........Muskrat is 12 billion plus.
      Winston

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    3. I should point out the challenge for Nfld is relatively small, if the economy is stable. Holyrood supplies about 13 percent (down from 30 percent a decade ago) of our energy, as most all is hydro. Nova Scotia is about 60 percent coal! You would think Nova Scotia would have the 12 billion problem and a modest cost for Nfld.
      Winston

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    4. Robert, also , building codes are very important, so not just power costs impact energy use and peak demand.
      I read in the Plumbing and heating magazine that the P and H industry is very upset at Alberta adopting new insulation standards for floor slabs. I was always of the opinion that hot water floor heating was very wasteful of energy. In Nfld our ground temp is about 43 F in winter. Many use no insulation or just 1 in. The new code call for or 3.5 or 4 in rigid insulation under slabs ....R16. Actually , in a renovation on my cottage I used R25. But the industry fears many will avoid in-floor heating as that adds a lot to the cost. Too bad, I suggest.......if it is not efficient, avoid it, and use what is efficient. Alberta is moving ahead with Climate change measures, and Nfld should do likewise. If not for codes house standards would not improve. Very few exceed the codes, even though it is cost effective for long term energy use. Codes can be as effective or perhaps more effective than power costs .
      Winston

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    5. Following the 1970's energy wakeup, the Architects and Engineers prepared guidelines and codes upgrades in an attempt to get builders and home owners to understand envelope heat loss. A lot has been learned about vapour barriers, air changes, mould, green energy, etc. I have lived through this period and have seen a lot of bad construction, mostly because home owners have not taken building science seriously. Having an abundance of cheap fossil/hydro energy together with a carefree lifestyle has gone against better outcomes. The National Energy Program went against the tide of human expectations, (John Crosby and the Mulroney PCs), set out to destroy "Red Square". Something got out of control in Northern Alberta. Canadians were seduced with larger than necessary houses and gas driven equipment. It's not entirely the Government's fault that the watts/sf/person is out of whack with utility and non renewable natural resources. There is a lot of pain ahead.

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  25. Don't expect much from this failed former liberal candidate or the later failed candidates hired by this government. The premier now says the long awaited EY report is coming soon as he is pressuring the minister of Natural Resources!!! Also the AG report is coming soon on the long awaited Martin severance scandal, it is scandalous!! Watch for lots of smoke and mirrors and other form of cover. It is amazing how quickly transparent oppositions become opaque to total darkness when they govern.

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