Monday, 10 December 2018


Guest Post by Ron Penney

In my guest post of October 4th I explained how the 2002 Gull Island deal was scuttled by then Leader of the Opposition, Danny Williams, aided and abetted by the then Chair of the Board of  Newfoundland Hydro, Dean MacDonald, and board member Mark Dobbin.

When Mr. Williams became Premier in 2003 he proceeded to commence a series of personnel changes at Newfoundland Hydro which has led directly to the Muskrat Falls boondoggle.

The first was the appointment of Gilbert Bennett in 2003 to oversee the Lower Churchill project. Mr. Bennett formerly worked with Rogers Cable, whose work experience is in telecommunications. He is no doubt a bright and competent telecommunications engineer but it is hard to see how that experience readied him for his current role.

Then Mr. Williams appointed Ed Martin as CEO in 2005. He is an MBA whose work experience is in the oil and gas industry, largely in finance.

The first thing that Mr. Martin did when he assumed his new position was to fire anyone at Hydro who did have relevant experience and replace them largely with oil and gas people.

I was reminded of that fact on Thursday, October 24, 2018 when the extremely competent Maureen Greene gave her testimony to the Inquiry. She was legal counsel to the PUB when it heard the Muskrat Falls reference. I highly recommend to the readers of Uncle Gnarly that they watch the archived webcast of her testimony to see her bravura performance.

During her testimony she revealed that she was asked to apply for the position of CEO when the then CEO, Bill Wells, retired. She wasn’t successful as we know and the rest is history.

So shortly after Mr. Martin was appointed he proceeded with a purge of the executive of Newfoundland Hydro.
Former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin
At the VP level he fired the VP of Legal Services and Human Resources, the same Maureen Greene mentioned above, who had over 25 years experience, and the VP of Planning, and the VP of Finance.  The VP of Engineering retired at the end of the year. They all had in excess of 25 years of Hydro experience. He then proceeded to the next level of Directors and fired another half dozen, including the Director of Generation Engineering and the Director of Systems Planning, all with over 25 years of experience.  200 years of experience out the door as he was preparing to proceed with the largest hydro project, by far, in our history. Replaced largely by oil and gas people.

One of these Directors made the point to me that no major oil and gas company would hire hydro engineers to build an oil and gas project. 

Related to this Post:

Missed Opportunity: Scuttling of the 2002 Gull Island Framework Agreement

Just imagine where we would be today if Maureen Greene has been appointed CEO. Knowing her as I do I am quite confident she would have proceeded step by step and incrementally to get us to the real prize - the end of the Upper Churchill Contract in 2041.

And she would have ensured that Holyrood was properly maintained so that Dark NL would never have occurred.

Those personnel decisions have led directly to where we find ourselves today with a project which will cause great hardship to ratepayers and taxpayers and is a real threat to our sovereignty as a self-governing province of Canada.

Ron Penney