Monday, 19 August 2019

JUDGE LeBLANC TO REPLACE JIMMY KIMMEL AS NL's MEDIA SENSATION

As the fun was winding down in Dildo, Jimmy Kimmel having accepted the title of Honorary Mayor rather than face an Election, Judge Richard LeBlanc was wrapping up the Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls Project. It was time to begin the contemplation of a problem far harder than that which had excited Kimmel’s viewers all week.

Likely, Kimmel had stolen even the “die-hards” who might have otherwise tuned in for the Inquiry’s last inning. There was no pleasure to be had in Goose Bay anyway. There was only the pained legal verbiage of banal lawyers representing Nalcor and the venal politicians — the “culprits” — as well as the “contractors” (Astaldi), the “silent”  (Newfoundland Power), and the senior bureaucrats, the “submissives”, whose practiced deference helped create the debacle.

Judge LeBlanc will have the last word; unlike Kimmel, cautious metaphor will be the least of his problems. 

Monday, 12 August 2019

THE NORTH SPUR: WARNINGS IGNORED

Guest Post by David Vardy
Many warnings about the North Spur have been ignored.

Dr. Lennart Elfgren and Dr. Stig Bernander, both full professors at the Lulea University of Technology in Sweden, wrote the Minister of Natural Resources on August 1, 2019.  In their technical report entitled A Downward Progressive Failure of the North Spur at Muskrat Falls - A Possibility that ought to be investigated and mitigated, dated July 25, 2019, submitted to the Minister, they said that “The most critical inclined progressive downward failure surfaces of the North Spur at Muskrat Falls have not been properly investigated. Relevant stress/strain properties of the metastable soil layers have not been made available, and no independent external experts seem to have reviewed this aspect of the stabilization work.”

They said that old methodology was used to assess the safety of the North Spur, the same model which had been used unsuccessfully at other failure sites, such as Mount Polley, a copper/gold tailings pond owned by Imperial Metals and located in central British Columbia. They repeated their call for an independent panel of experts to undertake the research and to assess the need for further remedial work.

Monday, 5 August 2019

NORTH SPUR: JIM GORDON TRIES AGAIN TO GET SIOBHAN COADY'S ATTENTION

Dr. Stig Bernander
Editor's Note: Canadian Hydro Engineer, Jim Gordon has worked hard to get successive Ministers of Natural Resources, including more recently Siobhan Coady, to take seriously the geotechnical analysis conducted by Swedish scientists Dr. Stig Bernander and Dr. Lennart Elfgren in relation to the North Spur, but without success. 

The Spur is a natural formation which forms part of the dam structure for the Muskrat Falls project. The feature contains clays defined by experts as "sensitive" because under certain circumstances they have the capacity to liquefy and to collapse. The issue is increasingly urgent because Nalcor, in a matter of days, will begin filling the Muskrat reservoir to the 39 meter level. 

Thursday, 1 August 2019

MOODY'S AND FINANCE: WAITING FOR A MIRACLE


First, let’s clear up any confusion. The downgrade in the Province’s credit rating by Moody’s, a credit rating agency, resulted not from a “highly ambitious” deficit plan, as the Agency suggested, but because the Finance Minister’s ambitions about Budget balance in 2022-23 were supported only by talk. Moody's as much as said, “talk is cheap.”

Underlying the issue is a $14.5 billion “Direct” Debt compounded by $9.4 billion of utility debt referred to by the Budget Estimates as “self-financing” — which, of course, it isn't. “Rate mitigation” — required to prevent power costs reaching 23 cents/kWh — means that the Province's $4 billion equity contribution to the project is “sunk cost”. Implicitly, that’s Moody's view, too.

Monday, 29 July 2019

MEASURING AND MANAGING THE FISCAL IMPACT OF MUSKRAT FALLS

Guest Post by David Vardy
Measuring and Managing the Fiscal Impact of Muskrat Falls

Is it possible for us to manage the fiscal burden of Muskrat Falls? Moody’s downgrading of our credit rating raises serious questions as to whether we can handle this massive burden. It was Premier Dwight Ball, speaking at the St. John’s Rotary Club, who said “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”.  This is a variation on a quote from W. Edwards Deming, the father of modern quality management theory.  Can we really find a remedy to the problem if we cannot diagnose it and measure it? Surely the burden can be measured.

The PUB is relying on Nalcor’s revenue requirements in 2021 as a measure of the burden to be carried. We know that this does not take into account the 8.4% rate of return on equity on the generating assets in Labrador, an equity burden already being carried on the books of the province but deferred for future recovery from ratepayers.

Monday, 22 July 2019

"ANONYMOUS ENGINEER" REFLECTS ON INQUIRY


Guest Post by the "Anonymous Engineer"
EDITOR'S NOTE: The author of today's article is the whistleblower, dubbed the "Anonymous Engineer", who disclosed – on this Blog - falsification of the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project. That was January 30, 2017 . His comments were recorded in a post entitled Muskrat Cost Estimates "A Complete Falsification". A second post called Muskrat: Allegations of Phony Cost Estimates provided significant additional details of low-balling which ultimately were used to justify the Sanction of a project. His assertions have been confirmed by Forensic Auditor, Grant Thornton and by various Witnesses who gave testimony at the Commission of Inquiry. — Des Sullivan

Nalcor - A Documented History of Deceit
Now that the Inquiry is reaching a conclusion – after almost 130 days of hearings and at least 125 witnesses of all stripes – left exposed is an unmistakable narrative, a trail of deceit and misinformation that is beyond belief. 

Let’s look at this trail from the very beginning: 

Monday, 15 July 2019

MUSKRAT: DOES DANNY BLAME THE PUBLIC, TOO?

It sure seemed that the words of Joseph de Maistre, the 18th century French Monarchist, moralist and philosopher, were being invoked once again — this time by Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry. “Every nation gets the government it deserves,” asserted de Maistre, an advocate of social hierarchy (a system based on class division) in the period immediately following the French Revolution.

The Consumer Advocate’s legal Counsel, Chris Peddigrew, was questioning Marshall's assertion a day earlier when he opined that the vast majority of people in the province had supported the Muskrat Falls project and that, accordingly, we are all to blame for what has occurred.