Tuesday, 23 May 2017

ANONYMOUS ENGINEER HAS ADVICE FOR AUDITOR-GENERAL

Some critics of the Muskrat Falls project, including this scribe, had hoped that the Auditor-General (A-G) might review the activities of Nalcor several years ago. Confronted directly on the issue, during a presentation on the province’s fiscal position at Memorial, the A-G excused his Office based upon a limited budget and a shortage of resources.

Then in November, 2016 Terry Paddon – with no evident change in those resources - suddenly got energized. He told the media he now planned “to take a look at Nalcor Energy (and) possibly Muskrat Falls."

The focus of the A-G has to be sharp and precise. In this instance to investigate the allegations of estimate falsification of Muskrat Falls.

In its Mission Statement the A-G’s Office states:

"As legislative auditors, we audit financial statements and other accountability documents, evaluate management practices and control systems, and determine compliance with legislative and other authorities.

Our purpose is to promote accountability and encourage positive change in the stewardship, management and use of public resources".

Contrary to the stated “Mission” there has not been any response from the Office of the A-G on anything.
Auditor General, Terry Paddon
There is nothing wrong with the stated role of the A-G’s Office.  It’s just that a megaproject is not in its league.

Bear in mind that it took the A-G nearly five months after Nalcor CEO hiked the project costs to $11.4 billion - and termed it a “boondoggle” – before he showed any interest.

In addition, a former senior Nalcor engineer – through this Blog and the CBC – levelled some of the most egregious allegations ever directed towards any arm of the Government - including deception and falsification of project and budget estimates.

In response, there has not been a peep from the A-G’s Office. Not even in consequence of CEO Stan Marshall having kicked responsibility for these activities to the camp of a very narrow senior group.

If not the A-G, on what institution is the public supposed to depend?

The A-G ought to have noticed that the government, through Minister Siobhan Coady, ‘used’ him and his undefined plan to “look” at Nalcor as a means of delaying consideration of a forensic audit of the Muskrat Falls’ estimates.   

In a sensible world – one where integrity in government is paramount – the A-G would step up by making it impossible for Premier Ball to engage in pretense – simply by telling the public how his plans have matured since taking on the Nalcor file.

A skilful A-G would tell the Premier that he need not worry – that he (the A-G) intends to pursue a forensic audit.

Recent comments to this scribe by the former Nalcor engineer give further clarification to why the A-G ought to disclose his position. Said the anonymous engineer:

A forensic audit is orders of magnitude more complex than a commercial audit that most people are familiar with. To perform an forensic audit the group has to have a very high skill level in high tech tools such as - mathematical methods and simulations, large databases of unit prices by location, productivity statistics, familiarity with logistics, construction methods, indirect costs and a whole host of other attributes.

It will be extremely unlikely that the AG's team will have such skills.

Much of the problems at Muskrat Falls is due to the senior Management not having a clue. Stan Marshall himself has said so in Anthony Germain's interview with the Nalcor CEO. The AG's report cannot, and must never be, the basis for a decision on the forensic audit.

What could be clearer?

A good starting point for the forensic audit will be the statements made by the Nalcor CEO in his interview with the CBC  This gives a very sharp and undiluted focus.

Comments by Stan Marshall – CBC Interview

Indeed, the anonymous engineer (AE) was good enough to make the following comments (shown in red below) in response to Stan Marshall’s (SM) comments to CBC’s Anthony Germain:


SM: Initial cost projections were "generally way too low"...

AE: Then find out who made them and who approved them. This is very easy to do. Check the Project Approval Documentation.


SM: "I don't think the thing ever would have been built at the estimates they had given at the time. They were just unrealistic." 

AE: This statement implies that the estimates were deliberately understated due to a policy decision made by Nalcor to secure project approval.


SM: I don’t know who was responsible.

AE: Just see whose signature is there on the “Authorization to Proceed” documentation.


AM: Whether they came from my predecessor, whether they came from the Confederation Building, I have no idea…don't know who made the ultimate decisions before my time"

AE: Once again check the signatures on the “Authorization to Proceed” documentation.


CBC: As for the current $11.7-billion estimate for Muskrat Falls, Stan Marshall says that number is solid.

AE: No. This is incorrect. The $ 11.7 billion comes from the EY Interim Report dated April 2016. The final report is not out yet – one year later. This is most unusual. Cost increases will be inevitable.


In conclusion, there is absolutely no reason why the A-G cannot or would not conduct a forensic audit. The “Mission Statement” requires him to do so. Now, all he has to do is hire the requisite skills.

Indeed, anything short of a full forensic audit will be a serious dereliction of duty.

49 comments:

  1. If Shelia Fraser was our AG, the Ball would be rolling now

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  2. If there was sufficient public outcry (via this blog and Open Line shows and public demonstrations), Mr. Ball will have no choice but to comply. The ball is in our court.

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    1. Wayne OL hosts were the loudest MF cheerleaders excepting Pete and VOCM got rid of him. One OL host being accused of being on the take from Nalcor for his fervent defense of the project and their subsequent response was an legal threat if anyone impugned their character in the style of DW/Trump.
      Looks like some in the NLM were simply propaganda tools used to spread Nalcor's misinformation, even if unwillingly and unknowingly. Fooled by Saint Danny but there still has been little investigative journalism by the NLM into Nalcor and MF to date.
      Jerome Kennedy outright lied about the monthly costs to ratepayers saying it was $30-$40 more a month in HoA when itis a minimum of $75 dollars based on NL homes average 62GJ consumption and the initial 16.4c kWh price quoted.

      AG was barred from Nalcor, PUB was barred from Nalcor after their none-decision/rubber stamping - Nalcor under the PCs became it's own self-governing entity accountable to no one, having literally 0$ RoI for years, unlimited budgets.

      Perhaps if John Noseworthy stayed his term instead of failing to run as a politician and degrading the office of AG the books might've been looked through.

      Current AG was the DM of DoF when budgets increased $2-$3 billion To quote Agents of SHIELD "your compliance will be rewarded"

      Des/AE if NL had whistle blower legislation would MF have been sanctioned so easily and thoughtlessly?

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  3. At first I was disappointed that the issue of Mud Lake flooding is not the topic,......but part way through I realize UG has his priority correct.....the flooding at Mud Lake is but one more instance of incompetence that will be addressed............
    The engineer says that senior management at Nalcor didn`t have a clue. I have often heard the expression, it takes two clicks to make a clue, and one might ask whether they had a click.
    As the engineer says.......see who`s signature is on the documents for the authorization to proceed. Surely someone can leak this to UG! For Stan Marshall to say he does not know who is responsible......he should certainly know some, if not all of them. Marshall.....a straight shooter..........not Annie Oakley, hey boy.
    Only straight shooter I know of is RNC Smythe. He was pretty good!. The US Seal guy that took out Ossama, used 3 shots to the head, hasa book out, and was interviewed on CNN. Smythe was as good........only problem poor Dunphy was no terrorist, just a common Joe with a work place injury that was treated rotten and forgotten....a noise maker.
    Just discussing straight shooting here.......and whether Marshall should have this reputation, as to integrity.
    Winston Adams

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  4. What Terry needs is a team of insiders on his team that know immediately where to look and can quickly obtain all the evidence needed for a criminal investigation. However, those very same people would need protection afterwards because they'd be blacklisted. Too many powerful people will be implicated and the economy here is too small. It might be possible to get some recently retired people to help, but if you are in the prime of your engineering or accounting career, it would be one heck of a risk to take if you planning on remaining in Newfoundland.

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    1. Not only that, it's your children's and grandchildren's well being which must be considered. Vindictiveness will surely surface make no mistake. When you challenge certain people their backlash is frightening. Everyone can point a finger to at least 1.

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  5. Keep it simple. Open up the contracts files. Stan reviews this daily/weekly. As a professional construction manager he should be required to make this information public. Now who has the authority to do this? Auditor General. Yes Ferguson who replaced Sheila. He has already said that the Feds do not want accountability on the National Energy numbers. Some MP's might be embarrassed, but they could be re-assigned.

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  6. The way I see it, the Liberals, Stan Marshall, the AG(s) and the local media are all accomplices to this atrocity. To be in such state-of-affair economically and have so many accusations and revelations with little to no action/reaction is unbelievable. If MF was on the up-and-up you'd think all Government Parties and Nalcor would be more than compliant to negate bad publicity or at the very least, exercise a duty put an uneasiness to rest. The silence is deafening.

    dm

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    1. Oh, the media as accomplices.......Russell today in the Telly writes on coffey makers, their not so sharp needle like points, and the danger of high pressure spray washers,and the elaborate cautions by manufactures of the dangers of these little devices, and concludes by saying that he himself is NOT SO SHARP!.
      What of the pressure of a wall of water that made it`s way to Mud Lake, and the pressure of a much higher wall of water on the unstable North Spur. Where is Nalcor`s list of precautions to avoid flooding and risk to life!
      Where is the commentary and concern by the Telegram on what is happening down north at MF.
      Russell is smart enough to nitpick on trivia, but cannot give intelligent opinion and analysis on this critical project. Boggles the mind, and suggests that Russell wishes to play dumb.
      PF

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  7. pf.. i think the telegram and russel in particular has been one of the few media to cover muskrat falls and offer independent thought. i dont thonk your critique is fair..

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  8. NO, NO,NO, .Say it isn't so.
    VOCM website says the province is close to finalizing a 20 year 1.2 million hectare forestry deal with a British company, London based, Active Energy Group, who seem to make a low grade wood pellet to replace burning coal, and seems to be an international company.
    This seemed like good news, and I figured they have assets of a billion or so.........so I did a google search and found 2015 financial info, nothing for 2016.
    Here is what their financial statements show;
    Revenue for 2015: 24.3 million (a customer in Turkey)
    Loss:5.7 million
    Loss per share 1.03
    Assets:13.4 million
    liabilities 12.5 million
    Net assets 0.84 million ($840,000.00)
    Cash at the end of year $43,335.00
    Wages and salaries 1.1 million
    Paid to directors $792,000
    Average paid to 40 other employees ; $7,000.00 per year.

    Mercy, mercy.........say it isn't so..........a 20 year lease to such a mickey mouse operation...........and will we give them a few million to help out!
    Not exactly Fortis status. Are we a province full of idiots to do a deal on this............unless strict exist clauses, and NO govn grants or loans, and published for the public before finalizing. And Ball is a business man? Or a nut job?
    Winston Adams

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    1. This sounds like a very bad choice for our forestry. This company will probably just find someone else to rape our million hectares and take a cut, or maybe they will go bankrupt and someone random will be stuck with the lease. I wonder if the lease will have restrictions -- like use it or lose it?

      Wood pellets are nice but it is a terrible waste of trees. Why for example, would we not want to promote our tough spruce with close growth rings and cut them into US and metric sizes for export around the world. Then turn the slabs and branches into fiber for home insulation and pellets for heating. Then replant the forests and try to get back to a proper climax forest that was originally native to the island. Maybe open up some land to self sufficient homesteads too (quarter mile square was common out west) e.g. Land Reform.

      Of course, all of this requires vision. We seem to have no vision and politicians don't look beyond the next election.

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    2. The Telegram story on this says 70 jobs to be created.....they now employ 44 at 7,000.00 a year, so for an international company they should relocate their head office to st Johns, not London. And 7000.00 a year....hardly enoughtto qualify for the pogey......is it.....

      With forestry becoming important as a renewable energy resource, surely investors from China or elsewhere can be sought out, or will come knocking soon, with the carbon reduction initiatives speeding up........and here we will tie up this land for 20 years who will do nothing but may sub lease to others and little benefit for the province. We continue to give away our resources........same old story. But hey, they have 43,000.00 in cash.......maybe they donate that to the Liberal , Ball , Party.......that should secure the deal, hey boy.
      Winston

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  9. Hi Winston and others - would you consider creating an account in the Take Charge site and go to the questions section and provide quality answers? (this site is for Newfoundland electric customers). I noticed for example, that when questioned about the lack of heat pump rebates, the "energy expert" evaded the question and further stated that heat pumps couldn't handle cold weather and were expensive. It is the proverbial fox in charge of the hen house, aka power company in charge of demand reduction. It is a fundamental conflict of interest. I think electric demand reduction needs to be a priority for all NL customers given the future pricing and reliability uncertainties. That includes all forms of demand reduction as well as alternative heating sources including heat pumps, pellets (carbon neutral), wood gasification, solar and even oil or multi fuel furnaces.

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    1. I wasn't aware they were answering questions , but they have a list of general questions and answers with very little information, perhaps I need to create an account as you mention, to see what you refer to.
      But I can assure you they want to minimize info for or encourage much uptake for this technology.
      As to minisplits handling cold weather: some makes go down to -27C.
      Nova Scotia give rebates for quality units , they require good performance to -15C. But typically these units operate ok to -20C or colder. Poor quality models will give problems. Nova Scotia has a long list of acceptable models, which is online, I have encouraged Take Charge to publish that same list for here .......they refuse. So it makes it difficult for customers to know which makes are good. Basically customers, for a variety of reasons , are achieving only little more than half what is possible due to: poor sizing, wrong model, or poor installation.........yet even so they are pleased. Take Charge avoids promoting optimum performance, with scanty information, so both contractors and customers lack good information. Sad really.
      Take Charge understate the potential of the technology when using best methods. Expensive is a relative term. Expensive compared to baseboard heaters.... yes. But a good installation will pay for itself in about 6 years (3 years if power rates double), and will save about 15,000 dollars for say a house after the unit is paid for, for a 15 year life span.(30,000.00 if power rates double.) R2000 house takes longer for payback, as there is less heat needed. However R2000 houses, and large houses offer greater savings on peak demand reduction for the grid. I have monitored performance of systems for our climate here. Agreed all alternative sources are important as you mention. We desperately need a reliable source of info for residents, and are 10-15 years behind other jurisdictions on this.
      Cold is a relative term.........avg Jan /Feb winter night here is -8.6C,......a breeze for a quality unit, although, wind protection is beneficial..........and performance down to -15 C is a good figure, to cover the cold snaps........where possible attic mounting of the outdoor unit is the ideal place, but must be done right, and much improves performance, compared to outdoor mounting. Demand reduction would have been the prime solution instead of MF, in Nova Scotia it costs about 3.6 cents per kwh for their rebate program and with very large demand reduction (MF is about 55 cents per kwh) This province is second worst in the country for energy and demand reductions ........it would blow you away to see what Nova Scotia has and is doing.
      I have considered creating a web site for reliable information.....but lack the smarts for the computer knowledge to to that, but have done considerable research work which confirms the high performance of Cold Climate mini-splits for the Avalon. I have little doubt uptake of these will severely impact power forecasts, and thus impede MF needs for the island.
      Winston

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    2. You can also post energy saving questions (especially rhetorical questions that you know the answer to) on the TakeCharge site that will be seen by thousands of rate payers. Make Nalcor squirm. Call them out when they evade the question.

      One of the heat pump rebate questions said this " .. Heat pumps are typically 2-3 times more energy efficient than electric furnaces, but they won't be able to provide the full heating load for your home at colder temperatures. So you probably won't cut your heating bills in half, but there should still be savings". Not very enthusiastic, nor accurate. My heat pump in St. John's has seen three winters and never has it been too cold to operate.

      Todays TakeCharge challenge is drying clothes. The voting option does not include the clothesline. The headline is "What technique do you think would save the most energy when you use your dryer?" Good thing is that most people said "Clothesline" in the comments. The bias though is obvious. They will never encourage things that outright destroy electric demand.

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    3. You say Make Nalcor squirm.
      Take charge is jointly operated by Nfld Power(Fortis) and Nfld Hydro. They siphon off about 5 million of our electricity bills paid to pay for Take Charge.......one third of this goes to their salaries and overhead and two thirds for incentives. Half the incentives are good , like insulation, half saves no meaningful energy, so much is PR, misleading information. So most about half goes into Nfld Power coffers and keeps power demand high, (and revenue and Profits) and the customers are unaware of the deception.
      Over 90 percent of customers rate Nfld Power high, so why change. Yet their own survey shows only 5 percent heard of minisplit heatpumos from the power companies, 65 percent by word of mouth from neighbours or friends.
      First minisplit in Canada ....1991. Take Charge mentioned then last summer
      20,000 installed in Nova Scotia in 2011 alone, with 1500.00 given to customers in rebates. About 100,000 units now installed in Nova Scotia. Still give rebated there. Many saving measures are used in Nova Scotia, 40 million a year for incentives.
      Here....not cost effective they say, may not operate when cold they say! Lies , Lies and damm lies.
      They used our money to do a study........took them 3 years, and when questioned if their conclusions were reliable......they said no. No engineer would put their name to the report.
      Heat pumps were never discussed until I rose the issue in 2012, pre Muskrat sanction.......it was ignored
      I rose the issue again with the PUB, where by the PUB requested the study in 2013......Nfld Power did NO fundamental research........nor do they intend to do any.That way they can evade the reality of how good the technology can be.
      Last month, I raised the issue of the poor energy efficiency and conservation in Nfld ,at the the Fortis shareholder meeting, before their CEO. I called them out on being second worse in the country.......he said nothing to indicate they would change.
      Fortis CEO was at the carbon emission meeting here recently with he feds. Fortis CEO, Barry, as reported by Ashley of the Telegram said incremental changes is the way to go.....like a snails pace.........they have done that this past 25 years.
      Problem is there is almost no one pushing back. It is a non issue here. No organization of folks so they walk all over us. They must laugh at us, as they are very effective in doing almost nothing. And we deserve to be laughed at.
      Make them squirm............how about 10 or more on the floor at next years Fortis AGM meeting. How about 10 or more at Nalcor quarterly or yearly public meeting. Make them squirm.........and why has our main media ignored this issue......, as compared to other jurisdictions, .they too need to squirm.
      WInston

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  10. For every KWh we reduce, rates or taxes have to increase to meet the requirements of the Muskrat Falls power purchase agreement (courtesy of your friendly neighborhood PC and Liberal governments).

    This is an economic nightmare (and keep in mind that only those businesses and households that can afford to insulate, install heat pumps, solar panels, etc. will benefit from net metering), and in turn, that will drive up rates and impact middle and lower income families most.

    There is no way out (but the costs/impact and risks can be reduced by stopping the dam/generation plant).

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    1. Yes, Drive up rates or taxes or reduce health and other services.
      But high power rates (and even present power rates) drive middle and well off families to efficiency, without doubt. And it is why the call by UG to put MF on ice was the right one. Your site Vision 2041 shows the turn down in both peak demand and energy use. A robust efficiency plan at this time could help avoid sending billions more.....and this should have been foreseen 5 years ago.
      Yet Nalcor and govn continue on one path, while residents will take the path to reduce energy use.
      Is it too late for Efficiency NL! I suggest not.
      Efficiency will happen with or without government leadership. Power rates and elasticity for electricity will dominate actions. I feel consumers are at the point where most will move in this direction. It is taking off, despite govn and power companies wish to discourage it.........even Feehan thinks we need to discourage efficient heating......for the sake of supporting Muskrat. Did all MUN economic profs miss what other jurisdictions were doing with great success!
      WA

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    2. Maurice this is a good summary of the economic conundrum that MF spending presents. Those able will be forced to conserve and the burden will shift disproportionately to the poor and aged. It is Social Darwinism at its most ugly.

      Stopping now as you point out is the only sane way to save costs and risk to human health.

      Both the anon engineer and Robert G Holmes on this blog have made requests for specific documents that would cut to the chase to understand the spending and engineering. They are excellent suggestions. The question is how do we get them made public?

      The political opposition seems nonexistent, The AG and Consumer Advocate are compromised by their actions (or lack thereof). It seems a grassroots campaign demanding they be made public using FOIA and direct pressure to the responsible minister is the only way forward.

      As Jim Learning pointed out to Paddy this week it is time to stop Nalcor acting like the government, above scrutiny or review.

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  11. “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves.” — Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president, 1801-1809.

    The Prov/CDA governance on matters Muskrat and other deals seem somewhat running amok with Jefferson's belief in Democracy. If you look at your power bill, the dictatorial utilities have been granted oligarchical authority to bill you and I for the privilege of connection to the public/private grid, whether on not you consume the energy provided. "Base charges, etc." Sort of the choices that Cable TV operators give their subscribers.

    A mild, (no IWA type bloodshed), but effective citizen/ratepayers strike/revolt seems warranted in the need to open the books on Muskrat.

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  12. NL following Ontario's lead?

    http://www.tomadamsenergy.com/2017/05/23/deputation-for-bill-132-fair-hydro-act/

    Who decides what "legal" is with respect to paying the full cost for electricity?

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  13. Alberta, where government still want to represent its ratepayers.

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/alberta-government-introduces-bill-to-cap-electricity-rates-to-stop-price-spikes-1.3426033#

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  14. 20 years ago I noticed a road type structure in the distance, while driving from Carbonear to Bay de Verde. Eventually I learned that in the early 1930s, though heading for bankrupsy and 15 years of the dole economy, the government here was still building branch rail lines, that had made no financial sense.......one to Bay de Verde, another toward Ferryland.......all for political reasons.
    When the Commission of Governmemt took over, the rail was sold as scrap to Japan, who then needed steel for their war build up in the 1930s.
    History does not repeat, but has many similarities. Power demand and energy use dropping, yet continue on with Muskrat.
    Innu Nuke says he has a way of protest that can stop Muskrat, but has not given details. The prior protest did not stop, just idled Muskrat he said.
    Surely a prize should be given for the solution to stopping Muskrat. No solution so far.......most want it stopped, but our government does not follow the wish of the majority.....which seems within their power.
    So,no solution.......our Legacy Fund Project continues, having causes the First Flood in 200 years at Mud Lake.
    I think we need consult the true Muskrat, who helped make the earth in the Creation story.
    Maybe the Innu has a better plan......can`t be any worse than any of us has proposed thus far.
    This idea is way out there.......but what the hell:
    Step 1. 1000 worriers (not warriors) march out on the North Spur close to Spirit Mountain.
    Step 2. The leader goes to the top of Spirit Mountain and gives the signal.
    Step 3. All 1000 stamp their feet in unison, following the example of the leader. Timing is important.
    Step 4. After a while,(who knows how long), the quick clay mud will start to liquidify, deep down below the surface. The ground will fell spongy.
    Step 5. Run for your life.......some North off the spur, others to the Spirit Mountain........and watch the spectacle. Problem solved.

    Now this is proposed on a scientific basis: that of resonance frequency.......just look it up. Problem is getting the force, and frequency just right, and some good luck. No guarantee.
    Tesla used this technique and almost brought down a steel building in New York a century ago, with a small hand held vibrator.
    On the other hand, Nuke probably has a better plan.......as for mine, how do we get 1000 people to partake.
    Ok Bruno.........any better idea.......and don`t get saucy.....
    Winston

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    1. Yes Winston, lets say a dozen warriors, flooding the airwaves and making FOIA requests for the specific documents and reports outlined in this post. Corner politicians and demand the material be made public before lives are lost, not just ruined like Mud Lake. Demand that Nalcor stop being a law unto itself, shielded from democratic oversight by the GOVERNMENT!#! It is time for this farce to stop.

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  15. Well, a week after Muskratgate, there is a ray of light from an unexpected quarter.
    Now Muskratgate is the coverup, that is collusion by Nalcor, and the government, and some media, to deny that Nalcor played a part or was responsible for the flooding at Mud Lake.
    Why Muskratgate............well, , because whether the gates at the spillway that they frigged around with, whether they did not adjust them at all, or opened them more , or closed them more.....this is key to knowing the cause of the flooding..........hence the importance of the GATES.
    Let me back up....
    Before breakfast I checked , and UG had no new posting today. The poor guy must be getting worn out........who has done more on this issue of the boondoggle?
    I checked the Telegram, the Peoples Paper, that we should call the Platform Paper. The new owner, stated they had a Platform that will lead to profitability. That Platform may not include analysis, investigative journalism, and real stories of local interest, me thinks.
    Low and behold: an Editorial in the Platform Paper, usually written by Russell, titled "Flushing out the problem". Good......the word flushing, the word problem, Russell's cute way to get to the flushing at Muskrat falls, and the problem at Mud Lake, says I.
    Well, it was about water, and 'bergs' of a sort, and clogging systems, and damages,.....but cited figures of only 600,000 dollars,..... much too low for Mud Lake damage thought I.
    Of course, we was describing sewer blockages in London and New York, from accumulation of fat and other crud.
    So much for the Peoples Paper........Russell hides from from the Flood issue......what else is new?
    While eating breakfast, Paddy Daley happened to be on VOCM, flapping his gums. "People are saying that Nalcor shouldn't even be saying that their operations has nothing to do with the flooding" says Patty. What people was he referring to I wondered.
    "This DISMISSIVENESS" he continued........."I don't know. I don't follow it sometimes". He pauses, then says one more word "Academia". But it was the tone of his voice on that word. A dismissive tone really. As if to say , what the F--k to they know.
    By now I was puzzled. What he hell was Paddy talking about. Who was he talking about? He gave no references, least he steer readers to other media outlets, I suppose .......so are we to be mind readers....and read Paddy's mind?
    Not much news today ,I thought. So I Goggled "Vision 2041" There was the big chart showing our declining peak demand for power on the grid, but that was posted days ago.
    I almost missed it. Maurice, who seldom misses anything Muskrat, showed a link, titled " Nalcor 'dismissiveness' a worry when it comes to flood blame , says MUN profs"
    Now that must be the source of Patty's own dismissiveness of academia. Academia.......MUN profs! Were these the people that Patty meant?
    "I don't know, I don't follow it sometimes" said Patty Daley.
    Well, there's a mouthful. Don't follow it most of the time, seems more correct, where follow suggests understanding it.
    Problem is Patty's mouth is way too big for his brain, which many suggest, and I would not dismiss that opinion.
    But the ray of light .........from MUN profs! Two MUN profs not silenced by Nalcor. Are the gates on the collusion on the boondoggle about to burst?
    Winston Adams

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  16. So, who where these academia guys and what did they say:
    The story is on the CBC web site, posted last evening, by Stephanie Kinsella.
    The academia is a Ken Snelgrove, associate professor of civil engineering. and Joel Finnis, a climatologist and associate professor of geography, both at MUN.
    They say:
    1. they worry about the dismissiveness that they heard from Nalcor.
    2. you have to look at the water levels and when....data from the Water Survey of canada report
    3. water levels were rising, then rose very quickly after an ice jam
    4. the ice jam may have been cause by dynamic wave or a pulse of water coming down the river.
    5. Nalcor said "we didn't do anything , we just let the water pass through.....whatever came in from upstream we let pass through the dam (spillway)
    6. To understand the process, (note this Mr Daley), you need to understand the "normal process". of water entering upstream. It progresses downstream, it takes some time, water has a chance to build , ice has a chance to break."
    7. That (process) likely didn't happen this time......the water at the headpond (just immediately above the dam at muskrat,) was immediately released downstream.
    8. The action of maintaining the water level at 21.5 metres at Muskrat needs scrutiny...........the motivation (of Nalcor) comes down to WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE COMPANY, to protect their powerhouse, main dam and cofferdam......they wanted to prevent flooding of their temporary works......and they used the spillway as a ice strainer.
    9. Both said we need to dig deeper to rule out whether Nalcor's operations triggered, impacted, or caused the flooding.
    10. That Mother nature is driving the bus, and she is, and all of a sudden that you tell her you want to get behind the wheel, you really have to take care.
    Winston Adams

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  17. Hey Winston, isn't all this just speculation and conjecture? Where is the hard evidence? I have no doubt that the 2 MUN profs are astute scientists but speculating cause and effect does not make it so.

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  18. Agreed Mike, there is soft, moderate and hard evidence.........soft might be old timers saying this never happened before, and Nalcor saying "we had nothing to do with it ( most now realize they are not world class experts on anything......but rather incompetent on most things. So take their statements with a large grain of salt.
    Moderate is what the profs and I have said, some of mine is likely hard as I previously , last week , cited water levels rises at monitoring stations, only some of which the profs cite.
    More hard is on past years water levels at these key monitoring points, to compare the difference this year.
    You are into photography, if I recall.......... photos and satelite data on the enlarged reservoir data due to the damming at Muskrat would be hard evidence as to increase ice volume, and the photoa of the ice stopped off Happy Valley , prior to the floor at Mud Lake. Muskrat is a normal choke point, but not this year, another piece of hard evidence.
    My feeling of confidence that Nalcor caused or largely contributed to the the flood at Mud Lake is about 95 percent, up from 90 percent last week, mostly due to the MUN profs concerns. But I may be wrong, of course. But if competent independent experts assess this, without influence of our govn and Nalcor, I would put a considerable wager against Nalcor's position.
    So, I would not call this speculation and conjecture, but as to the weight of evidence so far.......a comprehensive study is needed. and just be an answer in 60 days I suggest.
    Winston

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    1. Winston, the academics lay out the process in detail. Nalcor kept the icedam upstream to protect their works. Jim Keating from Nalcor has confirmed the mechanism in his press conference. It is as "hard evidence" as one needs to understand what happened.

      Don't be swayed by trolls whose MO is sweeping generalizations without evidence.

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  19. How close to "the bottom of this" is the Premier? What evidence has been presented by whom? What mitigation plan is under way? Did the built structures suffer any damage from frost, ice and hydraulic flows? What is status of coffer dam leaks? What was the cost over-runs the CEO said would occur from civil actions? Where is the contract administration summary? What is projected cost to complete? Lots to be reported on by 30 June committed

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  20. Dawn of a new day?

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nalcor-tone-change-mud-lake-flood-1.4130928

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    1. It is a start Robert. They were taking a shit kicking for their "It's not us" line and the furor and political response has forced them to consider a new approach. They sent a new face from the O&G division to do the PR. They could not continue being arrogant or the Premier would be in the crosshairs.

      Your questions above are spot on but I doubt that many(any) of the questions will be answered. It will take an uprising like the Mud Lake folks were forced to do to get answers.

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  21. Rather amazing that within 24 hrs after the MUN profs went public, that Jim Keating, also a civil engineer, admits that Nalcor was in fact DISMISSIVE of local residents concerns and local knowledge. I guess Patty Daley tomorrow morning will will say he is sorry to the residents of Mud Lake.
    Yet is Keating being honest? He says that their initial response was indeed dismissive and not productive, but that initially he says "we responded HONESTLY.
    CBC reporter Jacob Barker states "that Nalcor officials repeatedly said there was no manipulation of the water at the dam and that water levels were being constantly maintained at a level of 21.5 metres in the dam reservoir. Anything that is happening with the spring thaw, it's really just passing through the spillway. So we're not doing anything with our normal operations to have impacted that water flow downstream." Those were the statements of Deanne Fisher , Nalcor's general manager of corporate affairs last Thursday.
    So, were those statements honest, or misleading, with a spin to appear honest, but factually dishonest? And is Keating now being honest to say those statements were honest?
    Keating says he now understands the questions being raised, that they have the data for further analysis, but perhaps more data is needed for a full analysis.
    So, were they doing anything to manipulate the flow of the water at the dam? Yes or no?
    The gates there are adjustable up and down. There are 5 large gates. The CBC story has a good photo of them, some open some not.
    We know the level was maintained at 21.5 metres........so they must have been opening the gates more to let more water through. How do we know more water was going through? Because water levels were rising upstream and downstream. How do we know that? From the water level monitors. If the gates were held in one fixed position, the level there would go higher than 21.5 metres.
    Since the level there did not rise, it was because they let more water through. They opened the gates more to increase the flow through the spillway, plain and simple..........unless I have made a boo boo.
    Now if you open the gates more, and more water flows through, is this not a manipulation of the water at the dam? Of course it is. When you say the level is maintained at 21.5, this does not mean the water flow is not increasing, and it does not mean you are not opening the gates more. You are manipulating the flow and the gate opening position. To say other wise is dishonest, I submit, by Fisher, and dishonest by Keating, in support of Fisher.
    That is my take. I welcome opinion to the contrary, as to where I may have gone wrong.

    Winston Adams

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  22. Back to the energy efficiency, I'm wondering if one can go by the mini-split HSPF ratings for St. John's. The good ones for heating purposes are rated as high as 14 and work down to -25 when we rarely go below -15 and even below -10 is sometimes only a few days in the winter.

    In this climatic zone will a HSPF 10 to 12 deliver as good savings as the 14? I'm assuming that the higher rating would provide the best coefficient of performance on the coldest day of the year and thus reduce Nalcor's peak load for that one or two day period, however, they don't provide any incentive so is it worth the extra investment to max out on the HSPF in this climate?
    Thanks

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  23. Dear anon
    New Brunswick gives an incentive for minisplits deliberately so they reduce the grid peak load, otherwise customers may buy less efficient units or units that are not deemed COLD CLIMATE models.
    NB, NS Maine and others define COLD Climate by both HSPF as well as COP ( assured energy savings at colder temperatures. Here they do not specify COP, which is rather strange).
    I have monitored COP average of 2.5 for dual head units with HSPF of only 8.8. I have monitored single head unit units, attic mounted with COP of over 3 with HSPF of 8.5. In theory very high HSPF, which is a seasonal performance may be better than lower HSPH. One of the factors for high performance is the spacing of the fins on the outdoor coils. Many are 18 fins per in. If you go to 19 , 20 or more the spacing is very small. A negative performance factor is the frequency of defrost cycles. Outdoor units defrost usually one every hour in high humidity conditions, which is most of the times. Attic mounting reduces this frequency, i have found by more than 90 percent. I have concern if units with very ,many fins per inch may need to defrost even more often, and therefore impede performance in real operation.
    These units should be field tested here.....which I may do eventually. Nfld Power refuses to do any testing............so they guess and make assumptions. You are right you may pay more for less. Manufacturers have COP performance curves ........an essential thing to look at for opertion at cold temperatures. Some have this online, or the supplier should be able to obtain it. There is a big difference in perfpormance from one mfg to another..........but there are 4 or 5 good mfs.
    If you use NS ratings your are well protected for performance here. Models with HSPF 12 or 14 should be 20 percent better than HSPF 8.5 or 9. But COP also matters, and there is the defrost frequency issue.........no mfg gives data on the impairment for that. I have assessed that on two installations, as noted, and it is rather important for our climate.
    Nfld power should be leading the charge on testing to maximize the peak load reduction. But this also means reducing their energy sales further. You have more concern than they do! You probably know that heating capacity at -15c is only about half of rated at 8C, which is the factory nameplate rating.
    3 mian things: sizing for capacity needed for cold temperature, make of unit, and a good installation. I suggest you check references of other customers savings form the contractor you will use. Any less than 2.5 COP (60 percent saving on heat) yearly avg in not very good. This is about 30 -35 percent on a total yearly power bill saving. Less if you only do part coverage.

    WA

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  24. Anon, -15 C rating is good for the Avalon, but if you size for -10C, it will overall when colder and lose considerably efficiency, whereas,if you design and size for the heating load at -15c, then at -10C the unit operates at part load, which gives better efficiency than the mfg actually states. This is pretty important and generally not realized. So, avoid under sizing as to capacity.
    WA

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  25. Lets assess Nalcor's initial statements on Mud Lake flooding:
    1. That they maintained the level at the dams reservoir at 21.5 metres.
    2. Anything that is happening with the spring thaw , it's really just passing through the spillway.
    3. We're not doing anything with our normal operations to have impacted that water flow downstream.
    4. There was no manipulation of the water at the dam.

    Well, what reasonable person would not interpret these statements, if true, to be satisfactory that Nalcor was not to blame?
    Patty Daley said last week that "Nalcor is straightforward. The elevation was kept at 21.5 metres. No more water was released than the natural flow of the river." And this largely sums up Nalcor's statements. Sound they were both honest and straightforward.
    But was Nalcor straightforward? Or did they present the talking points in a way that sounds very reasonable to suggest they were not at fault?
    Now, the first two items above is more or less correct.......no dispute.

    But what of item 3 and 4.
    Item 3: We're not doing anything with our normal operation.
    But what is their normal operation? They don't say, other than that they maintain the elevation of the water at 21.5 metres.
    How do they achieve that?
    Well, the spillway has 5 large gates that is motorized that can lift and fall, and regulate the water flow. Now the flow in the Churchill River is constantly changing, so this regulation can maintain the elevation at Muskrat by adjusting the flow there. Get the picture? Whether remotely from St John's , or local control, these gates are being constantly adjusted, maybe once every hour, maybe more often or less often, as needed to maintain 21.5 metres at the dam.
    So, their NORMAL operation is to constantly adjust those gates, constantly allow more or less water through, with the aim to keep a 21.5 meter elevation. Get the picture? Gates going up and down.
    Now if this is true, then manipulation of the water at the dam is happening. You are manipulating the flow,(not the elevation), so as to keep the elevation constant. Anyone not see that?
    And the manipulation of the flow is via the mechanized gates, motors and pulleys to make the gates go up and down.
    So, manipulate the gates (locally or remotely), thereby manipulate the water flow....................all to keep the water elevation constant at 21.5 metres.

    So, if what I say is correct, then were all their statements true and straight forward, or some not true but cleverly crafted to deceive the public?
    Winston Adams

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    1. Anyone catch the CBC National News on the high water levels in Lake Ontario? These was a solution , they could let more water flow out at a control dam, but the result was something like this : drop one inch in Lake Ont and raise the water level 10 inches (figures something like that) at Montreal where flooding is already a problem.........imagine if they did not hold back the water at Lake Ontario........Montreal would be Mudreal.......does the pattern and mechanism seem familiar? So they let lake Ont rise. Is Nalcor paying attention?
      Winston

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  26. Doing a forensic audit of a mega-project is not as difficult as people think. It simply requires access to the contracts and the commercial data. As for market data for comparison, it can be acquired fairly easily. Sure, it will take some time, but a couple of seasoned project professionals would do it in a few months. Of course, the big question that needs to be answered first is: What is the objective of the audit? The answer to that basic question drives the while process. Since there seems to be so much money available for less fruitful endeavours, I'll accept a contract to perform this work for the low, low price of 2MM. I need one other person to assist. He gets 2MM as well. It's a bargain. But as I have said, set the objectives first.

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  27. All recent past PC governments have been cheerleaders for this project and several present cabinet ministers served on the Nalcor board of directors and cheerlead the project. The present Liberal government has replaced the CEO and now are cheerleaders for the new CEO. Little else has changed and there appears to be little appetite for any review of the numerous mistakes that have been made with this project beginning with its approval to proceed and on daily basis since then. Their present feeble support for an audit to expose any past wrongdoing appears to be just that, feeble acknowledgment of the possibility.

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    1. I am inclined to agree. The "get er done crowd" are hanging around and whatever the outcome; high risk engineered structures, cross border skirmishs, low paybacks, ratepayer pain, financial risk, etc., us dissenters need to refocus on life after Boondoggle.
      What part will this deceitful project play in the next election? How will the Muskrat/Grid to NS assets be transferred to private ownership? What energy demand management measures shall ratepayers resort to. Given that Renewable Energy alternatives were never taken seriously in NL, the Avalon may at last wake to the fact that thermal generation has many options. Holyrood and the like will probably be around for some time to be. We need to move along.

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    2. I disagree Robert it is not time to move on. The risks to human lives and the treasury are more apparent now that Nalcor's incompetence and arrogance are exposed for all to see. The corruption that some of us have been convinced is the raison d'etre of MF needs more than ever to be exposed.

      The sunk costs on the dam are best swallowed before more is wasted when the spur engineering scam is catastrophically displayed when the dam is filled. There is some recoverable benefit with the fixed links so the money spent is not completely wasted.

      There has never been such a widespread understanding of how the boondoggle will sink NL. Now is the time for a push to finally expose the truth. Politicians understand the political risks MF poses to their future. It will just take forceful demands for the information you and others have requested be made public NOW.

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    3. I respect your opinion Bruno. I am more thinking of the longer term.
      Mega hydro projects, with long and risky transmission lines, have and will inevitably become less of the generation source most suitable to mankind.
      Geothermal sourced generation has come of age, and will provide for smaller turbines dispersed along the electrical demand grid. Holyrood itself is sitting on good geothermal capacity, which in the long term can serve the optimum, sparsely populated, demand managed needs, into the next millennium. 50 years from now, Muskrat will be a bad project, perpetrated by a bunch of cable guys for short term profits, paid for by the unsuspecting public.

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    4. I agree Robert the future is widely distributed renewable generation. A thousand points of light if you will. The age of the remote megaproject is over. MF is a classic example. When generation and distribution costs 60 cents KwH or more 5 cent solar or wind (or geothermal) are the future for any shareholder owned utility.

      These damned monstrous hybrids as Jane Jacobs would call them like Nalcor, Manitoba Hydro etc. continue because they have a chump, the rate taxpayer paying the bills. Utilities need to return to their original intention, providing a SERVICE, not exercising political power for vanity projects. To accomplish this regulators and watchdogs like the PUB, AG, Consumer Advocate must be more watch and less lapdogs to power.

      In a small pond like NL incestuous elites wield unchecked power. Restoring the independence of regulators is crucial if NL has any pretense about being a democracy.

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  28. I agree with you Bruno, as I have little confidence in the North Spur, or reliability of transmission, more money to be spent at Holyrood, and much more to be spent for completion of MF.......better to swallow sunk costs. But I also doubt Nflders desire and ability to stop MF and just have to move on as Robert says. If the Spur holds, and transmission operation ok most of the the time, on a regional basis, MF is good for NS, helps close coal generation, some help against climate change........to put the best face on this boondoggle. But the cost to Nfld may be to take us under, 1 billion could have done what 12 or 15 will take, so a vast blunder and waste, at a time when funds are needed for other priorities. Sad to see so few of us engaged enough to even comment here. Nor many new, and most fear to say their name.
    Thought I might do a more formal analysis on the Mud Lake flood. Expected some feedback on whether they actually manipulated the gates and flow, as I see it......water monitor stations (data not held by Nalcorseems to support that).but seems little interest.Ball will set up a committee..........how many useless committees do we have already for oversight etc.
    Winston

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    1. I am interested in what you can discover Winston. It seems like a natural mission for your engineering mind.

      I must argue that MF is not good for NS either, the cheap power notwithstanding. It has already resulted in NS getting an exemption for sunsetting coal by 2030. MF "green" energy let them make that case. MF means more coal here not less, filthy, unscrubbed 7% sulfur coal I might add.

      In addition when the reliability of the new links, that we both have concerns about, becomes an issue it will be our filthy coal here providing your energy when Nalcor bungles the integration with their in house, unqualified help.

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    2. One more thing Winston. "If the spur holds" is faith based, not science with what we know about the state of the engineering, reports from drillers in this blog and secrecy that Nalcor clings to.

      Praying there will be no deluge is no basis to proceed is it?

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    3. I believe that Nova Scotia uses coal as wedge to get a better deal on Muskrat, at Nfld expense.
      Agreed, faith based rather than evidence based is not the way to go, but it the way is is going, seems they ignore reason, knowledge and science and chose what they want to spin their argument. I suspect nothing will shock Nflders until the shock rates hit. But for Goose Bay and Mud Lake it is life or death is the risk, .......and Gil Bennett says the issue and dealing with a dam breach is the governments problem, not their mandate to deal with that!
      Town of Goose Bay is calling for a public inquiry as to the flooding. I see that have called for a public meeting Monday at noon, but does not say what the topic is. Their meeting is available online live , I just found out, so I intend to tune in.......other readers here may want to do that.
      Reviewing some meetings at Happy Valley video since the flood ...one guy said 200 years Mud Lake , no flood, one year Muskrat and a flood.
      I previously equated for Mike Parsons that soft evidence as to weight of cause of flooding might be opinion such as from Nalcor or residents. That was a off the cuff remark, as residents traditional knowledge , I submit is moderate to high weight, but probably not equal to hard data on water volumes, ice volumes etc.But I stand by Nalcor quick opinion as soft evidence.
      My believe that Nalcor cause this has jumped again from 95 to 98 percent.......part due to Jim Keating sense of humility and sounding contrite on the CBC audio.....admits they were dismissive, but I think he knows more than he admits to.
      Winston

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