Monday, 16 January 2017

RURAL NL NEEDS TO SAVE ITSELF

There are only a half million of us. And one half that number is so dispersed that it inhibits the achievement of the scale economies needed for normal commercial growth and for efficient public administration.

We have known those facts for a long time but, as a society, we have also affirmed that the higher marginal cost of maintaining hundreds of small communities is an acceptable one because it means preserving our rural character. Rural is who we are — even the more urban of us claim it as their identity.

While it was tough at times over the years, successive governments concocted budgets which maintained a reasonable balance between demand and the affordability of rural infrastructure and services. With the arrival of high oil prices — and low interest rates — successive Administrations engaged in, by any modern historical standard, outrageously excessive public spending. They watched as labour inflation — due to ill-staged megaprojects — helped distort a small economy. These economic factors, and a runaway boondoggle at Muskrat Falls, now threaten the whole province — but especially our rural communities.

The province had an opportunity to eradicate the debt — and to secure a sound economic foundation.  The opportunity - and the need - were ignored. We lost touch with reality. Even now, despite an increase in a plethora of taxes, the public — both urban and rural — seems wilfully blind to the fact that two out of every eight dollars of government spending must be borrowed.

Yet, neither urban nor rural wants anything to change — including how education and health care are administered. That is only natural, except it isn’t sustainable.

Of course, the worse effects of change didn’t remain at a standstill — even as government behaved like drunken sailors. 

Rural NL continued to thin out as a demography, virtually empty of babies, maintained perfect alignment with increasing gentrification — assuring rural NL’s continuing demise.

Whether rural might have developed a “real” economic diversification strategy using the opportunities afforded by the province’s oil revenues— levering lower tax levels, the fishery and other resources, and by creating an environment in which private capital is attracted — is moot. It just didn’t happen. As a result, hundreds of communities now constitute “base camp” for mobile workers; many of the younger ones at the ready when permanent work affords putting down stable roots elsewhere.

For those reasons (and there are others) rural NL has the most to lose as our fiscal position deteriorates and the Province has difficulty borrowing — and as mounting interest costs on the debt diminish the funding available for public services.

Change is an integral part of every society. Nothing is ever the same for long. But change is a problem when any calculus denotes decline. Rural will have a tough time fending off not just the bean counters, but the bias of the bureaucrats in St. John’s and of those having assets to protect where business has agglomerated.

Off the Avalon, every region will come under pressure as savings are sought. The clamor of business and politicians from the Avalon will drown out the voices of those from far more dispersed and politically weaker areas - not because they are any smarter or innovative but because they are closer to the seat of power and to an uncritical media. Rural will also begin to suffer for its failure to stop the Conservatives’ reduction of seats in the House of Assembly. It is is unlikely they will ask why the Members they elected don’t think in terms of “big issue” politics.

At any time, the most threatened regions should never send municipal minds to Confederation Building — especially when rural is politically vulnerable, which is most of the time. The days when the fishery can absorb endless surplus labour have long passed. The appetite for $50 million ferries, and a ferry system requiring over $100 million to operate — against $7 million cost recovery — won’t be tolerated when the tough choices eventually get made. Of course, the ferry system is an easily identifiable expression of disproportionately bad economies of scale. Those who believe their hospital or the nearest school - representing even bigger money - is inviolate likely aren't preoccupied with such issues.

If rural has any chance it must have strong advocates. It needs smart leaders, sensible enough to see more than potholes, and savvy enough to recognize that a far more complicated agenda underscores issues of survival — even if the potholes are occupying the average person. And the best people don’t let partisanship interfere with a higher agenda.

The truth is that rural — like the Avalon Peninsula — elected a pretty weak group. Most are Liberal Members — not that the electorate had a choice.  Instead of laying out a strategy to stall rural’s hollowing out, they foiled even the most tepid plans of a poorly constructed budget. The Caucus went so far as to threaten the political survival of Premier Ball if cuts were pursued.

To be fair, the MHAs gave Ball an ultimatum because of the bruising they received from their constituents. It’s not just rural: all members of the public want the status quo, even if their expectations are short-sighted and unattainable.

Likely, the rural MHAs never considered that rural, especially, cannot afford the status quo — or, more precisely, that more status-quo-type budgets will undermine rural forever.
They didn’t consider that a bloated public service — centered chiefly on the northeast Avalon — not only drains the government of every option to recover some semblance of budget sanity but that, lacking a cohesive power base, rural will be the first to pay.

The question of rural “inefficiencies” are already on the lips of every person who dares discuss our fiscal circumstance. As a result, the most remote areas will discover just how deep desperation, and the power of self-interest, will drive the fiscal knife into the services they hold dear.

Marystown Shipyard
But scarce government money isn’t the only threat. 

Consider Marystown and Bull Arm as examples of rural economic rot.

Marystown has historically enjoyed greater prosperity than most NL communities. If one apprises the history of that Town — not the fishing industry but the shipyard — its claim on work has been inextricably linked to government spending and on contracts obtained using local preference rules under the Atlantic Accord. When there are no local opportunities for work the facility is shuttered — as it is now — which illuminates its inability to attract Canadian or international work based upon local wage rates and other input costs. Now, add twenty-plus cent electricity to those input costs. What are Marystown’s prospects? What is its strategic advantage? Who talks about the problem, anyway?

A not terribly different narrative haunts the Bull Arm site as well — which will be empty mid-year. When the Hebron platform is completed, Exxon Mobil will vacate infrastructure built when when the Hibernia GBS was constructed in the 1980s. The site is unmarketable internationally except to an operator compelled to use it as a condition of an offshore oil development permit. Neither the Terra Nova nor the Hebron projects included modernization to help make it a world-class deep water construction facility. Nalcor management, responsible for the Site, has done nothing to advance its marketability.

It is difficult to think of Nalcor without feeling a sense of derision for its leadership - and those who flag wave for them. The usual cheerleaders applauded as evening news showed the Hebron topsides entering Bull Arm in July 2016. Neither they nor the evening news anchors noted that the province accepted a penalty of $150 million from ExxonMobil — the company having successfully argued that, in the then-overheated labour environment, the project schedule would be “derailed” if it was built here. As a result, the drilling equipment module went offshore, too, bring to 80% the topsides module construction not performed in this province.


Hebron Topsides
Shouldn’t someone ask, as did one engineer recently, why a company needs to go to the other side of the world to have such a high percentage of work performed, pay the cost to ship it here, and pay a large penalty to the local authorities, too?

Are the union agreements excessively expensively? Is the problem productivity? Taxation?
Aren’t Newfoundland and Labrador workers highly sought out in Western Canada? They are. Isn’t the low Canadian dollar adding to our competitiveness? It ought to.

Indeed, if we are so uncompetitive, we might ask: given the low C$ shouldn't all the work be performed elsewhere? What is the cost to every taxpayer to have any offshore work done? Should we stop insisting on local reference - given the royalty structure - because the higher the capital cost of each production platform mean less revenue for the province? 


Likely, such a step would be unacceptable. Strangely, though, what is acceptable is that we can be placated by a “bit” of short-term work. 

Locally-induced inflation -especially wage inflation - has a lasting downside. It is not something to be played with for a political purpose or to boost inflated egos. How could one not see that lights that lit up the Hebron topsides array in July constituted a hoorah for the jobs that went to South-east Asia?

Vale and Hebron rightfully deserved priority. Muskrat Falls could easily have been delayed, even if it had been adjudged economic and necessary — a fact confirmed by a schedule off-side by more than two years. 

Wouldn’t we like to have some of the Hebron work lost to South Korea now?

As in the case of Marystown, we might ask: what is the competitive advantage (aside from the preference demanded under the Atlantic Accord) of Bull Arm? It isn’t the facilities. And as to labour, contractors at the Muskrat Falls site use a higher cost per unit of work than does the oil sector in Fort McMurray. Does Bull Arm suffer the same problem? 

Important as they are, a rural — or even an urban — MHA (or any leader) will never speak to those issues or of the many others that underlie the real challenges to rural economic development.

Indeed, rural’s vulnerability is that not a single spokesperson has emerged: not one person emboldened by its progressive decline, no one capable of articulating the really large realities which many communities face, not one Mayor, not one community leader. It is not that rural is absent such spokespersons but that the risk of offense to the government leadership — even to trade union leadership — far outweighs questions of rural survival.

Any calculus that defines change is a product not just of the size of the population, our resources, or of development opportunities. Negative change — decline — is also caused by weak political leadership and weak governmental institutions. A passive citizenry is no antidote either.

Larger societies — except for the fractious and broken — accommodate periods of cyclical decline. Most comprise a diverse and vibrant private sector possessed with finding new economic fuel when the economic engine becomes tired. But Newfoundland and Labrador is not one of those. Ours is a relatively small province driven by a resource-based economy. We understand cyclicality. We even know that when rebound occurs, a mirror image of what existed at the start rarely reappears.

If rural or urban hasn’t gotten the message that the current economic circumstance is not about cyclicality, that the five years or so of high oil prices and high revenues were anomalous, that it must reinvent itself and not just around a brief tourism season, there is little hope for that part of the province.

Possibly, people embrace the Liberal vision expressed in the document called "The Way Forward". 

It was launched with the claim of containing a strategy in which "success is not defined by the value of commodity prices, but by sound fiscal management and actions defined by clear goals..." Yet, it contains no mention of how the chief components of an economic plan - wages, taxation, infrastructure, and inputs such electricity costs - will be managed to achieve competitiveness and to attract outside capital. 

The same government talks of "sound fiscal management" as it continues to borrow two dollars of every eight for government services. (Include Muskrat Falls and borrowing becomes $4.5 billion on a total of $10 billion of expenditures.) 

It doesn't counter notions of innovation and initiative as an easy ride on the occasional horse ridden by international oil, or admit that without dramatic change this province will receive no pity from the budget “fixer” who will arrive when liquidity in the bond market dries up. (That’s the one who will say: “I’m from Ottawa and I’m here to help”.) 

Indeed, what the Ball administration billed as "a vision for sustainability and growth" attracted far less review - from any quarter - than a bad Hollywood 'flick' even though our economic plot contains a thriller - with real lives at stake.

When leaders, municipal and provincial, marry myopia — blissfully content in their municipal thinking — and that is not to disparage municipal issues but to note the dismal funding prospects of rural services and the lack of awareness to that risk - the only possibility, even if unlikely, is that the public will assert themselves.

The people of rural NL will have to start very soon, and it may already be too late. They will have to inspire the people they elected, and insist that rural survivability is raised in their Council Chambers, and in the House of Assembly. 

Rural voices needs to be organized. Rural needs able and articulate spokespersons - and the funding necessary to support the effort - to help formulate and influence public policies - not to maintain what they have now - it's too late for that - but to identify the practical building blocks of a sustaining rural economy in which "subsidization" and "compulsion" aren't the only watchwords. They need to discuss not only issues of infrastructure but deal with the thorny issues of labour, productivity, electricity and other input costs essential to commercial competitiveness - which is to say "jobs". They need to ask themselves, not just what the government is prepared to do but what they are prepared to change. 

I would make one suggestion. None of this is possible unless the public - especially the rural public - gets behind the need for a 'real' plan of fiscal sanity. Rural has to make the linkage between provincial deficit and debt and the sustainability of rural communities. It's as simple as that.

At the risk of seeming repetitive - if rural communities decide to come to their senses and take the first bold step, their public needs to remember that any solutions cannot include the status quo.

42 comments:

  1. The headline of this article says it all.
    Rural NL'ers are quick to stage protests at Confederation Building and on the evening news broadcasts about the government "abandonment of rural NL" but they purposely want to avoid the conversation about the very real challenges.
    They do not want to talk about out migration of their young, the aging population, crumbling infrastructure, low school enrolments, lack of employment opportunities, etc without the conversation ending with the government writing a cheque to solve the problem.
    These issues are real and not necessarily the "fault" of rural NL'ers but they are not the fault of the rest of the population who do not reside in rural NL either but those are asked to subsidize their desire to never leave their home towns.
    I am not advocating any resettlement programs but I do suggest that if it is your choice to stay in a place that costs more to service that "YOU" bear that cost......not "ME".

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    1. In Norway, that country has Service Centres. If you want to live outside the Service Centre, you do not get any services. You are on your own.

      In NL we have the same number of KMs of roads as the TCH from Halifax to Vancouver. NF Power has 12,000 KMs of hydro lines.

      How do we upkeep all of this. Our geography is our greatest challenge and the days of walking home from the plant for noon hour for your Dinner are past.

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  2. Bull Arm - this could become a permanent location for making pre-tensioned, plastic bridges for use throughout the world. These range from fairly small and often used to replace culverts to good sized single span structures. The bridges can be readily shipped and installed by helicopter and a crew with buckets of heavy duty contact cement.

    Rural Newfoundland - The communities can take over the abandoned housing stock, use ACOA grants to rehabilitate the properties, use local skills to do so, and time share the residences so as to have a year round supply of tourists. Government can assist without spending money - allocate moose and salmon licences to those incoming residents who employ local guides, advertise the time share concept on the Government Home page, provide training in management skills necessary to run the operation. Require the persons purchasing time share to pay for maintenance and housekeeping so as to generate local employment.

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  3. Anonymous said...

    The problem is that we really do not have leaders at the municipal level.

    They are on the cocktail circuit. It is more about the perks or the status of their office. To be able to go out in public and say that are a member of a Council.

    It was clear during Hurricane Igor that we really had figure heads and not leaders at the local level. In one case, the local Parish Priest had to fill the void of lack of leadership.

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  4. Two remarks:

    First, the rural NL issue can be seen as a master of scale. The Province's treatment of rural NL justifies the federal government's treatment of the Province. To most of Canada, NL is a lightly-populated, faraway place where folks demand more services than their size or economic contribution warrant.

    Sounds a lot like what Townies say about rural NL.

    Second, the article's title speaks of rural NL taking charge of its destiny, and I read the article looking for suggestions for substantive action. But all that was offered were process solutions (more specifically, greater political mobilization and, in essence, playing the squeaky wheel.

    If there are no substantive steps to offer there is not much point in writing (or, for that matter, criticizing others for also failing to articulate substantive steps forward.

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  5. In 30 years there will be no oil production.

    In 30 years the high tech and engineering jobs will be in India, Greece and other low cost centers.

    In 30 years the majority of our small towns will not exists, or will be populated by geriatrics.

    In 30 years artificial and robots will have taken the majority of traditional employment. There will be mass unemployment in North America.

    In 30 years our economy will be on the fishing, mining, forestry, tourism, and organic farming.

    In 30 years we will continue to be a rural jurisdiction. It will not be 1200 communities. It will be 30-40 communities, which need to be strong, connected and vibrant.

    Too often we plan for things we should have done 20 years ago. Lets start planning for the province, and the economy of 20 years from now. Maybe in the new jobless economy a declining workforce may be our strongest asset?

    There is a place for rural Newfoundland... Just not what we imagine it to be.

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  6. No townie wants to pay for the cost of services in rural Nfld. Yet most townies are transplanted baymen.
    Yes cost of services are more costly in rural Nfld, generally.
    However consider electricity. How many rivers that empty in Sin John`s Hr are dammed for hydro generation. NOT ONE WATT produced. It all comes from rural Nfld, at great expense for 230KV transmission. And townies pay more for this.......certainly not.
    And consider the 12 billion for MF .........to service where......termination point is the outskirts of townie land.
    But townies should not bear expense of rural costs! This is for essential townie electricity needs, Even if we drown and poison rural communities as in Lake Melville.

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    1. Well grab a boat and settle a tiny island and wait for the government to set up expensive services around you. You should get a hospital, school, and ferry services to name a few. You're entitled. After all, all the electricity isn't generated directly in St. John's.

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    2. None of the electricity is generated in St Johns, except high cost gas turbine backup. And there are no fish plants in St Johns, and fish is still a billion dollar business. Do townies beleive that in the basement of supermarkets there are food production facilities! Rural Nfld has had a significant decline, but is Nfld just the Avalon. Des is right, mayors need to be advocates . Without a healthy rural Nfld, we are but a Avalon rock with no resources and even our capital will suffer and decline.
      The neglect of rural is most evident on coastal Labrador, Shameful.

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  7. The status quo is all we're going to get. If history has taught us anything, it is that NLer's are not motivated to do anything that doesn't personally benefit themselves. The new commission of government is coming, the suit from Ottawa, "here to help", is fastening his shoe laces for his (or her) trip east. Get it over with already. The people who know better can tell us all about what Norway does, and or what Rural NL can do, but none of it will happen. Every generation before my own has pissed away every real chance we've ever had an some sort of economic independence, and my generation is quickly following suit. You might think I'm being negative, but it is the reality.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. We as a people are self serving and the ideology of "what do I get" is entrenched in our province.
      This argument should be based on fact. I get people of rural newfoundland and labrador want to remain close to their hometown.
      I have not heard a reasonable argument yet that is based on practical ideas. No, instead it is based on pure emotion. There is not one sustainably study to say we can support 600 communities in NL.
      Also there is not one politician who will say we need to move people to larger urban centres so the cost can be shared by many!!

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  8. The markets will resolve the issue of rural NL, once and for all... as surely as the sun rises in the east.

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    1. And St. John's will continue to be insulated from the markets by grotesque and disproportionate public-sector spending.

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  9. Among this doom and gloom, I can finally say "Houston we have landed"! And we have landed successfully. Those who have bothered to read my comments would now that I have put forward the idea that mini- split heatpumps are the salvation to our island energy problem.
    Few dispute they save a lot of energy, but the other question is do they reduce winter peak demand on our grid? Not likely say Nfld Power. Likely.very likely says I.
    The proof is in the pudding they say. Well the pudding is done, more or less.
    In April we showed to the PUB tests showing significant savings on peak demand at -8C. But -8C is no big deal, but for all that, our coldest month has average night temp of -8.6 C.
    But Nova Scotia has a requirement for operation showing significant demand savings at -15 C. Here in St. John's we have a all time record low of about -23.5 or so. A couple of years ago we had -19C. But this is rare.
    Our weather is generally warmer than Nova Scotia. Just this after noon I had a conversation with Nfld Power engineer Wayne Upshall. He confirmed that acceptable products that meet Nova Scotia standards are fine for us. Nova Scotia required a COP of 1.75 at -15C..........which means that if you put in 1000 watts you get 750 watts free, at -15C. many manufacturers get COP of 1.25 (250 watts free) but only good products that are termed COLD CLIMATE units achieve 750 watts free or better. Some claim and are certified as much 2000 watts free. But any less than 750 free does not meet good standards. I endorse and support the Nova Scotia standards..... hence the importance of -15C data.
    Most units are tested in labs, instead of in the field. Hence , Nfld Power's suggestion that in our harsh winter conditions these units would crash, or at least under close monitoring, show no reduction to system peak load. They call this a conservative approach, so not to give incentives as they do in Nova Scotia.
    Reduction to system peak load is essential to reducing oil burning at Holyrood, so this is very important.
    To prove this required monitoring the power used and monitor temperature outdoors, on a constant basis. We record every every six seconds. Temperature is recorded at the airport at Torbay every hour. We also have temperature device at the test site at Mount Pearl and also humidity conditions.
    We have 3 times recently encountered temperature at -10 C and recently -12C, but not as low as -15C, which is our goal.

    Just before 10 PM we achieved -15C at Mount Pearl (while Torbay showed -13.8C and still dropping. In addition, Mount Pearl showed RH of 86 %, while Torbay showed 82 %. These are severe humidity conditions for winter and a good test condition.
    We are getting results what can be shown to be proof of SIGNIFICANT demand reductions for -15C.
    But as Bill Clinton might say , that depends on what the meaning of SIGNIFICANT is. These figures will take a bit of time to put in proper format.
    Anyway I am having a rare drink of rum to celebrate this achievement. Lambs is my usual choice, but this time it was Appelton Estate.
    Perhaps only an engineer could get excited about such a thing.
    But this is very much a successful event. Next step ...........have MUN verify our data (as this is surely unwelcome news to some, and must be shown reliable) Can MUN be trusted? I think so. 2017 is looking positive, and this is only January.

    Winston Adams. Logy Bay.

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  10. Since posting, Torbay at 10:30 pm also show -15 C temperature.
    WA

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  11. Listened a little to Paddy Daley this morning, there was some discussion by a caller from the west coast saying the west coast has no shortage of hydro power, that MF power was needed for the east coast and that Danny Williams wanted that for his big housing project. Paddy indicated that that project was to be the size of Gander and that lots were now up for sale. There has been talk on and off about power needs for Dannyville.
    I did a search for Gander which indicates a population of 11,000. If houses are at an average of 3 people per house, that gives some 3700 houses. My prior calculation showed that there is a capital investment of about 1 million dollars to supply just one house with 18 kw of electric heating capacity. So 3700 houses means 3.7 billion.......or did I misplace a decimal point! Don`t think so.
    But there is some randomness to when each house kicks on all its heaters, which can reduce the grid load from these somewhat.But one can watch existing bump up in the wee morning hours when the thermostats kick in. The charts are on the PUB every day.
    How many house are planned there....a friend said he heard 10,000, but then said maybe 6000. Perhaps someone can clarify.
    Of course houses can readily use only 3 or 4 kw for heat, but using heat pumps plus R2000 current codes. But 18 kw with programmable thermostats is the preferred method by TAKE CHARGE promoted by our power companies . Go figure!
    Winston Adams

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    1. The power needed for the sham village of Dannyland can easily be found as "customers" - residences and businesses - either shutter or go off the grid in rural communities. There's no net increase in power needed in adding a suburb the population of Gander when the rest of the province collectively loses a Wabush every 12-16 months.

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  12. Winston, What is your best guess in this case, (Galway?), for distribution of Single Family, Semi detached, quadplex, seniors units, and multi unit demand? What % of multi unit construction will be condo vs straight Landlord rental? Is there zoning control to require multi unit developers to provide handicapped accessible units, and below market rent for low income?

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    1. Robert, his Lord overan the planning department, forced a change to their "independent" report on the development and ignored their request for a setback from the trans Canada. What chance is there that any planning regulations will be adhered to given the free hand his Lord has?

      Zoning control? Surely you jest!

      Where will all the middle classed families come from to buy into Gall Way by the way?

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  13. Frankly , no idea. Generally understood it was mostly single family houses. I know of someone who inquired about the cost of a building lot and heard the figure of 145,000. No idea of size of that lot.
    By the way Robert , with testing of heat requirement on monitoring I have been doing , we saw -15C last night at Torbay airport and -17C at test house in Mount Pearl. Achieved a bit less than 1 watt per sq fr required .Rather pleased with the results. And this was nder rather high RH conditions outdoors, as wind went around to the south. RH of 82 at Torbay, 86 at mount Pearl. Given the low temperature, this was surprising, as RH only about 50 a day or so before.
    Winston
    Winston

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  14. Mr Bernard Lahey just posted an interesting article on MF, and its financial implications to NFLD, on Tom Adams blog.
    (Bernard also refers to our blog that early, pointed out MF transmission lines problems)

    http://www.tomadamsenergy.com/2017/01/17/guest-post-by-bernard-lahey-on-muskrat-falls/#more-6470

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    1. I is sad that the Project Manager of Muskrat is prevented the reporting of vital project information to Financial Interests and the Ratepayers, in the manner that more professional Hydro Quebec PM's are required to do. By Financial interests I am referring to the Federal and Provincial Governments. Thank you, Tom and Bernard for telling it like it is.

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  15. As to rural Nfld saving itself, I learn on Thursday (CBC post) of A Tue event at Goose Bay, where the town is trying to save itself from being flooded if there is a breach of the North Spur.
    Economists are saying we will be in deep, deep trouble from a doubling of electricity rates. Yet towns on the island, and mayors are silent. Indeed rural Nfld needs to save itself, by standing up and speaking out. While the spending by government is out of control, Muskrat Falls is the elephant in the room. Rural mayors need to speak up, and stand up.Economists are also saying businesses will be in trouble from doubling of electrcity rates. Businessess too need to peak up and stand up. Perhaps we are a province of sheep, who sit and wait to be sheared.
    Apparently Nalcor is trying to assure Goose Bay they will not be flooded. Where is their credability. Bring back Ed Martin, he was a smooth talker!
    Winston Adams
    Winston Adams

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  16. Hebron is a great example of how things are done here...one measly little part of the pie. The module completed here is nothing compared to the whole structure....couldn't all work had been done here? would have taken longer, but who benefited? lots of money in someone's pockets...Inquiries? we need one HUGE criminal inquiry into the government since muskrats inception. The people responsible should pay. Wasn't it sanctioned on 6B, not 12B? how is it that they can get away with it all....absolutely disgusted.

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  17. I sat down the other day with the smartest man I know and our talks were about the days gone by when rural newfoundland was prosperous...I asked this 91 year old gentleman what life was like when he was a boy and how little towns survived.... He told me of farming in his area on the western part of the island which has fertile soil for growing different crops....He told me as a boy he was busy doing something every moment of the day..Milking the cows...feeding the pigs and chickens...Taking care of the horses and so on...Fishing was a strong industry also along with logging and mining...I said to him after listening and recording him for an hour or so what has happened to this great island....All we hear now is st johns and the rest of the island has fallen by the way side....He said we could be a vibrant island where we could make use of our little towns and bays for industry because people love to work and lots prefer to stay in those little areas and raise a family....You know I think he is right because if we had smart politicians who could see the potential of using areas of the province for manufacturing just like other countries do......I have been recording out talks for some time now because as old folks pass on there is no one of this generation remembering or caring it seems of the past and like he says the good times when everyone had a job to do...We have a beautiful island with good people who want to work so yes rural newfoundland can be utilized......Oh by the way that wise man is my dad....God bless newfoundland and Labrador....

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    1. Bernie, I too grew up in fishing outports, where local citizens, merchants did their best to develop their communities, with minimum dependence on "Sin Jhawns".

      We worked hard, shovelling salt for the fish dryer, loading fresh frozen fish product for Chicago/Atlanta, in Fortune/Grand Bank, played soccer with St.Pierraise and had a thriving trade with Cape Breton.

      The promise of rich resources development in Labrador and getting an education and jobs on the mainland, kept us restless sons and daughters of parents, who sacrificed for our betterment, looking to a future far different from what has unfolded. I could go on...

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  18. Great to read your thoughts, Bernie and Robert. Them Days magazine of Labrador captured much of the hardship and hard work ethic of past years. I too have recorded some stories of part of Conception Bay. In the 1930s, things were so bad that residents of Upper Island Cove cut down the utility poles for fire wood. In Spaniard''s bay they blocked the rail line demanding bread.........6 cent a day times of Commission govn. Makes me wonder about the end result of doubling power rates. Back then it was 1 dollar a month for power and just a small light and people could not afford that.
    Our leaders and power companies are actually trying to deliberately increase peak demand on the grid, despite rotating power outages not that long ago, and Liberty saying demand reduction is required.
    Our ex HQ friend says its the same as Ontario spending over one trillion dollars on a single energy project.
    Watched an inspiring last press conference by Obama today, and see that our leaders here are not second rate, more like fifth rate. And he called for media to do their job and be critical of the leaders and seek answers, and hold leaders accountable.
    So where was our media as to all these false assumptions that led to this mess, and even yet they are largely silent. This blog by Des Sullivan provides an avenue for some to voice their opinion and opposition to where our leaders are leading us.
    Winston Adams

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    1. Yes I agree this blog is a good forum for all Newfoundlanders...I had another conversation with my dad today and he is of the opinion that confederation was our down fall...This island with a half million population should be a rich vibrant place to live......We are hard working people and I believe if we had a government that would invest in rural areas things would be different.......

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    2. Bernie, my take on our history is that both the British and St John's Merchant class forever took advantage of rural Nfld. And it is the same now (they are the St John's Board of Trade crew) and promoters of 12 billion MF. How do we get a govn to invest in rural Nfld..........never did. Number one concern .....two terms and get a pension.
      For a short while Coaker built up part of rural nfld.....then he got knighted and moved to an estate in Jamica. Interesting to watch Trump appointments being grilled in US senate. Conflict of interest issues are important, but not here. Your father was a hard worker and they were survivors, but we were essentially a third world country during Commission years....and we had crooks running things before 1934. Blaming Canada is like blaming Quebec......we mostly can blame ourselves.........hence Rural Nfld Save Yourselves.....as who else will.
      WA
      WA

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    3. Yes I have read the history of our province from time to time and have over the years had many conversations with my dad and my grandma of the years when they were young.......They paint a happy picture of hard work yes but determined to make a living for their family against this third world country atmosphere you talk of.....I was born in the early 50s and growing up in a small town in the 60s I can only remember one or two families that never had a parent working....Fast forward to today and you would be hard pressed to find 20 people working in the area....A vast majority of Newfoundlanders had to migrate to other parts of Canada to work...Something changed in this province during my time.....

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    4. Yes Bernie,you are too young, as am I (born in 47) to remember pre-Confederation days. I believe some 90,000 on the dole in 1939 and dropped to 8000 in 1943, thanks to Hitler, who caused a small stir that got the Americans and Canadians into Nfld big time. When people are desperate for jobs they are greatfull for war, whether in Germany or here. Records show that many male Nflders were in too poor physical shape for work building bases here and many had to be brought in. Medical teams brought in from the USA and Canada in 1940 showed a lot of malnutrition in Nfld. By age 16, 40 percent had no teeth left.But you are right on the work ethic of rural Nflders, as to happy times, I suggest that wealth does not make a happiness to much degree.And that the happy times are remembered more that the hardships.
      In the 50s many of my area of Conception Bay were trademen who worked in St Johns. In the 20s and 30s My father, Capt Esau Adams, created a lot of local jobs, and things were a bee hive of actavity, fishing, herring factory, saw mill, etc in Spoon Cove,( but it was not prosperity, but kept people off the dole). Spoon Cove is now is idle as too local work.Largely retired, older people. In Spoon Cove and adjacent Upper Island Cove there is now 5 or 6 families total involved in the fishery. In the 1930s , my fathers records shows about 80 families.
      WA

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    5. Yes I understand that there was a lot of poverty in newfoundland pre confederation.....Its hard to imagine hunger on an island so plentiful with fish and wild game...My dads conclusions are that the union with Canada opened the flood gates to raping the wealth of this island and turned us in a welfare state...I guess my thoughts are if we can spend 11 billion on muskrat falls why cant we make available monies to invest in rural newfoundland where people are willing to work..

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    6. Agree totally. its truly sad. Ive heard so many stories from my now past grandmother. they welcomed confederation as they were starving. Her words, not mine. I totally respect that and understand the choices they made. It has changed my opinion on the whole thing. Its so sad the government can waste so much for so little and not invest the same in its people....I grew up in outport NL throughout the 80's. Our rural community had everything. only people that didn't work couldn't, and everyone owned everything.

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  19. For readers who may wonder if Mini-split heat pumps can be key to shutting down Holyrood, if widely adopted and best practiced were followed, see my lengthy post above from Jan 16, which is rambling, but confirms significant test results for Nfld. Excuse my excitement on getting these results.
    Winston Adams

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    1. Understood the concept is sound (relocating rather than creating heat), however, I'm somewhat dubious of the technology. These units have motorized compressors, moving parts, seals, pressurized systems. In short, they're subject to mechanical wear or could lose refrigerant charge over time. Fridges wear out, so will heat pumps. Question is, will their serviceable life make them a cost effective option?

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    2. I expect 20 year life span, so for typical house with 3000 per year energy bill, save about 14,000.00 after paying off the unit. Double the electricity rates and double the savings.Of course they wear out, some fridges last 30 years. i am now into 6 years without a problem.Before installing one in 2010, I talked with a guy in Nova Scotia who had a trouble free unit for 10 years.Fridges have 1 year warranty. These have 5 to 10 year compressor warranty. I was dubious of the reliability, not any more. But following best methods and good quality units is critical.
      WA

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    3. Winston, Have you considered the annual photovoltaic contribution to your power and energy demand of your Southerly Solar roof exposure? I would be interested in $Cap vs annual diversion heating cooling power, say from your already very smart system. How much annual power is used to run your equipment? Projected cost over next 30yr?

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    4. Robert, as to payback, after minisplit heat pump, I think the next best is separate heatpump for hot water, which run from 1600 to 4500 cost to buy. Pay back is likely 10 years, and is not too attractive. In many jurisdiction they offer incentives to bring down system peak demand, which can make it attractive. Nfld does little to bring down peak demand.These could be mounted in the garage, and supplied by warm air from the primary heating heat pump. They need a warn air source.
      I have one system minisplit mounted in the house attic. It exhausts through the roof and air intake is through the eave vents. Many advantages including better efficiency. operating fine for 6 years. Blizzard proof, never fails to defrost, protected from salt contamination, so longer life,and gets solar gain from the black shingles: attic temperature is about 7F warmer in Jan and 30F warmer in the spring and fall, on sunny days, and some gain on cloudy days. Those big houses with big attics are ideal for this.....optimum installation I think. And vandal proof.
      R2000 house has garage floor uninsulated. Per sq ft this area needs more energy for heat, so ideally codes should require insulation, and maybe do now. However we do less than 1 watt per sq ft overall, including garage.
      Solar panels can run a mini-split or help run them. It has a relative long pay back for the energy produced, and very expensive if trying for say 4 kw and battery, unless for a cottage where there is no hydro,. Net Zero construction is good, but avoid the expense of large solar system and battery system. But I do believe in a small amount of solar capacity, about o.5 to 1 kw. Panels 1000-2000 dollar cost plus installation plus batteries if storing energy. This could produce a little energy, but important in case of a power failure of several days duration. It could reduce gas for a generator, feed a small mini split and some necessary power. I`m for staying on the grid, but reducing peak demand and energy use. I believe something like 5kw of solar and batteries are something like 50,000 or more, and batteries maybe a 10 year life........not very cost effective. At our location we get few hours of sun, and much cloud and fog, very opposite of say Arizona, where there is economics , but generally a lot of incentives also.
      For Nfld , mini-splits for heating, in the south minisplits for cooling. Here hydro (and Wind) to drive minisplits , in the south, solar panels and wind to drive minisplits. ......I see as best and most cost effective.
      Most all minisplits now use R410.......newer ones are using CO2 as the gas (and operate at higher pressure, and few make these yet)and very very good for climate change issue as compared to R410
      WA

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    5. Robert, as to solar panels;
      Yesterday at -4C at noon, we had good sunshine, and solar gain through south windows
      Here are the heatpump loads:
      North side unit:460 watts (Some solar benefit....typical 800 watt needed)
      South side unit: 70 watts (due to solar gain).....typical 800 watts needed
      garage : 590 watts

      Usually north and south heap pump are much the same, and more than the garage load,at about 800 watts say. But the solar gain almost eliminated the south side energy need, and reduced the north load some, as heat from the south migrates some to the north inside the house. At this time total load is 1.12 kw. If there was a power failure, but the sun is shining, you could kill the load in the garage, so now the load for north and south is only 530 watt. 600 watts of solar panel could feed the heat pump load on this January day time for some 3700 sq ft. However without heatpump, you would need a lot of solar power to produce any heating.
      WA

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    6. While you guys talk about great ways of cutting electricity bills, well this Memorial U economist talks about the consequence's and says Nfld should hold the line on electricity rates, and instead use taxes to finance MF.

      "As people conserve, and cut back on electricity consumption, that won't do much good because the debt we've incurred from Muskrat Falls would be unchanged,"

      "The money (me: $ lost from lower electricity sales) will have to be found by raising electricity rates more, or by coming off our taxes."

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/taxes-electrical-bills-muskrat-falls-ratepayers-costs-1.3950886?cmp=rss



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  20. Wouldn`t you know it.......made a fool of..... just as I say Muskrat is not needed to shut down Holyrood, Mr Williams is at the Board of Trade saying WE need the power of Muskrat,...... that we are the envy of the world for our power,....... that 11.4 Billion for Muskrat is no big deal,(isn`t it 11.7),...... that Stan Marshall is in a serious conflict of interest because of various shares in companies,......... that one must remain an optimist,..... that we cannot get the Upper Churchill power to market in the back of a pickup truck.........and so on........ That there are all kinds of ways to keep electricity rates from going higher than 16 cents, which was the expected price anyway,...... so cost overruns are no big deal, as that is the nature of mega projects,...... and it is creating employment and keeping the economy afloat...... And that Stan Marshall and all the Muskrat critics needs a good shit knockin. So there you go. The savour has spoken and all captured by CBC cameras for posterity. Who can believe in mini-splits over the saviour`s words. No contest really...... I bow down. We need the power. We need the power. We need the power. Shut down your blog Des. The master has spoken, and you only encourage the noise makers, like me. Time to see the light.
    WA

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    1. Interesting, thanks for that. I found the arguments of former Premier Grimes far more compelling

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/roger-grimes-danny-williams-muskrat-falls-cost-1.3941494



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