Saturday, 12 January 2019

RATE MITIGATION - GRASPING AT STRAWS

Written by Des Sullivan and David Vardy
(with research and analysis contributed by PlanetNL)

The Ball Administration asked the PUB to examine alternatives to offer ratepayer relief from unaffordable Muskrat Falls power. Because the cost of rate mitigation is too large to be imposed on either ratepayers or taxpayers not that they can be distinguished the public should be wary that the PUB is possessed of a magic wand. The Government has essentially kicked the “mitigation” can down the road, too.

Having declined to suspend the project to examine the wisdom of continuation vs termination, the Premier was right to engage the PUB for the purpose. Unfortunately, the Provincial Government offered the PUB and its Consultants absolutely no guidance as to what interventions may be available from them or the Federal Government. Even a plethora of nips and tucks won’t suffice given the magnitude of the problem, yet they must know that MF threatens not just the public welfare but our collective solvency and, hence, the Province’s sovereignty, too. 

Monday, 7 January 2019

FINANCE MINISTER SHOULD LET EVERYONE SHARE IN THE GOOD NEWS

VOCM, in a year-end news story, quotes Finance Minister Tom Osborne saying that “the province has made some significant progress in the last three years in knocking down the deficit.” The Minister asserts that “in each of the last 3 years they’ve eliminated $2-billion from the deficit.”

Perhaps such comments should be dismissed as election fever builds and the propaganda machine is stoked. However, I do remember the Premier stating his commitment to transparency, and it is in that spirit Im hoping the Minister will release details of his quite fantastical assertion.

Could he also inform us why killing the deficit had to be such a painless exercise? How will we ever learn not to repeat the last decade of fiscal irresponsibility if correcting financial recklessness is done so easily?!?

Of course, I am being facetious.

Monday, 31 December 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR IN VERSE, OF COURSE

HAPPY NEW YEAR

An open stove -
Wood-junks burn
Red-orange-yellow
In flickering flames -
A rosy glow.

Scent of smoke,
And ghostly faces
In coals and soot.

REFLECTIONS AND THE TOP TEN POSTS 2018

Not surprisingly, the Muskrat Falls Project took centre stage — again — in 2018, while in the last quarter the Commission of Inquiry stole the spotlight, including among the mainstream media.

The Inquiry heard a sordid tale and irrepressible proof that that the project was based on false premises. The integrity of the sanctioning process was undermined by a number of disclosures including confirmation that other options (power from Hydro Quebec and LNG) in addition to the Isolated Island option (small hydro, wind and thermal) offered the province less risk and possessed greater viability. Estimates for the project were “low-balled” (a long-standing claim of the Anonymous Engineer). The Commission exposed myriad instances of official interference with the very consultants whose compromised Reports Nalcor and the Government used to justify Sanction. 

Monday, 24 December 2018

DUNDERDALE DROPS TWO BOMBSHELLS ON INQUIRY

Readers of the Uncle Gnarley blog have probably heard enough of the Muskrat narrative since the Inquiry began in September. Likely, most have broken out the Christmas cheer — including the legal weed — which is sensible, as long as the car keys are buried.  Sobriety may not be good for your health right now. 

In what other way, I wonder, could the drip-drip-drip of mind-numbing testimony extracted by Commission Co-Counsel be suffered by a decent citizenry, however necessary? 

Fortuitously, O’Brien and Learmonth have been gifted the skills of interrogation, each one displaying the painstaking artistry of the dentist’s drill. It is a useful tool, too, so many of their subjects having exhibited excessively large memory cavities. Poor mental dentition was repeatedly the politicians’ escape. Ignorance of cavernous proportions was also on display, overlain with unbridled hubris. Ed Martin even elicited from the Commissioner an unscheduled interim report — actually a tongue-lashing — which described him as “rude”, though I expect an even harsher assessment awaits.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

THE BARD ON MUSKRAT, MARIJUANA AND CORRUPTION


SUITS?
Do “Suits in Boots”* with greedy hand
Plunder freely projects grand,
And Shills attest the sleight-of-hand
As arrogance and hubris brand.  

Muskrat? Marijuana land? Et al, all demand
The question: who commands?
Who’s biggest suit from Newfoundland?

Democracy’s a thin veneer -
Lip service only, leads the cheer.
Dishonesty comes with curling sneer
As strings are pulled for elite sphere.

Does Province vie in corruption van
With Stans, Somalias, and Sudan
As numbers veil the anchorman?

John Tuach
Pynn’s Brook
December 23, 2018

*- Quote: Andy Wells, The Muskrat Falls Inquiry

Thursday, 20 December 2018

MUSKRAT ENERGY COST – ANOTHER MEASURE OF FAILURE

Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL22: Muskrat Energy Cost – Another Measure of Failure
Several leading electricity industry research organizations compile annual estimates of utility scale generation options.  These reports roll up the expected lifecycle costs relative to energy output to provide a single energy cost figure known as a Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE).   LCOE allows alternatives with high capital cost but low operating cost to be directly compared to options with low capital cost but high operating cost.

The energy industry consistently selects projects that can deliver competitively low LCOE numbers, however, Nalcor avoided this technique in favour of a customized and burdensome Cumulative Present Worth analysis that avoided illustrating the true economic merit of Muskrat Falls.  Although the LCOE metric was front and center in the Nova Scotia regulatory hearing for the Maritime Link, it was avoided by Nalcor and Government here.  Little wonder, as Muskrat’s LCOE is nothing to be proud of.