Guest Post Written By PlanetNL

Low Reservoirs Will Strain Thermal Generation This Winter

Uncle Gnarley suggested readers be given a respite from the
gloomy Muskrat analysis series and instead asked PlanetNL to provide a critique
on a different energy concern: the impact of low reservoir levels on this
winter’s energy supply needs, as just revealed in a recent NL Hydro report.

The first concern is the cost of unplanned high fuel consumption
at Holyrood and the standby combustion turbines over the winter and possibly
well into 2018, a cost that NL Hydro is certain to want to recover through rate
adjustments.  A considerable pre-Muskrat
rate hike will result. 

NL President Jim Haynes

The next concern is a more chilling worry.  Can the Holyrood plant and the turbines, mostly
aged assets in need of extensive repair, withstand the biggest demands placed
on them in many years?
  If not, the
entire island system is at considerable risk of major outages.

Last week, NL Hydro released it’s latest twice-annual “Near
Term Generation Adequacy Report” to the Public Utilities Board.
  As expected from a Nalcor subsidiary, they
have given themselves a passing grade and conclude they have adequate capacity
margin for this winter and for the next 4 years before Muskrat generation is
fully on-line and even if mainland interconnection is incomplete that whole

Within the report it is revealed that in the July through
October period this year, barely half the average reservoir water in-flow rate
has occurred, resulting in low energy reserves at key hydro generation sites. Copied
below is a Table from the report that presents those in-flows in their
equivalent energy value.  The historic
average annual value totals 4600 GWh but 2017 is coming up well short.
 The report also included this useful Figure copied below
presenting that indicates reservoir energy level is approximately 1000 GWh
lower than ideal and over 500 GWh lower than the 20-year average.
The Figure also shows the story for winter 2016-17 which was a
normal season.  Above average late fall
2016 rains brought water levels to near maximum just before the high demand
winter heating season, however, winter in-flows were below average, resulting
in overall average inflow.  The
reservoirs were drawn down very evenly from 1-Dec (orange line at right) to
just after 1-Apr (blue line at left) by over 1200 GWh and still had some margin
to spare when spring thaw started new in-flows. 
As a result, Holyrood supply last winter stayed on plan.  The system was adequate, reserves were
present and large power outage events were few and brief.
Recent photo intake at Hinds Lake (submitted)

Barring any major rain events this month, December 2017 will
begin with over 1000 GWh less reservoir energy available than a year ago. The reservoirs
are barely 300 GWh above the minimum storage target level.  The NL Hydro report acknowledges that
Holyrood is already running harder than normal this fall to limit the drawdown
of reservoir energy.  Glaringly missing
from the report is a more detailed analysis of energy needs through the winter
period.  Let’s do one here.

Winter Energy Requirements – December through March
The 2018 Island Interconnected System Energy Forecast included
in NL Hydro’s General Rate Application filed this year, shows the energy supply
required during the 4-month winter period totalling over 3200 GWh.  Holyrood is expected to produce 1300 GWh while
other non-hydro sources add a little over 100 GWh. 
The balance of 1800 GWh supply is set to come from hydro
generation.  As the historic average
monthly inflows (see the Table above) total to 1300 GWh, therefore the drawdown
from reservoir storage would be 500 GWh. But there are two circumstances that
makes the problem appreciably worse.  One
is that hydro turbine efficiency drops significantly when water levels are low
(lower head pressure reduces power output). 
The second is that NL Hydro acknowledges their weather forecaster, AMEC,
has advised to expect below normal precipitation for the next few months.

The reservoir energy deficit is likely 800 GWh.  Ideally, an alternate source of supply would
be switched on during the winter period to not push the reservoirs below their
specified minimum target levels and avoid a carryover problem to next
winter.  That would require 270 MW of
steady supply for 4 months and it simply doesn’t exist.  Even if the Upper Churchill recall was
available this winter (it is scheduled to operate by next winter) it would only
deliver 110 MW of firm power and with the Labrador West mining industry
possibly warming up again, it could be even less.
Thermal Generation To The Rescue?

NL Hydro must find a balancing act to use hydro generation
judiciously this winter while maximizing use of it’s thermal assets – a group
of plants that don’t inspire confidence.

The Holyrood plant is the only one intended to supply regular
baseload power and it is already planned to run to about 80% of it’s maximum
total theoretical utilization and couldn’t be asked to do anything more until
at least April when loads appreciably drop off.
The energy deficit has nowhere to go but to the combustion
turbine fleet that are intended to serve as occasional brief emergency backup
rather than as baseload power supply.  
The 50MW turbines at Hardwoods (St. John’s) and Stephenville
are practically obsolete, have a spotty service record, and planned major
capital upgrading remains incomplete. 
The 120MW turbine installed at the Holyrood site a few years back, while
newer and more serviceable, is due for major inspection and overhaul next
year.  If all three units are pushed into
hard service and perform well, they will deliver energy of about 100 GWh per
Assuming 400 GWh of energy is successfully generated by the
combustion turbines from December through March, the remaining 400 GWh
reservoir energy deficit can be produced through no action except by running
the reservoirs well below their minimum target levels – presumably
unprecedented territory.  Between April
and November of next year, barring above average precipitation and in-flows,
Holyrood is likely be called upon to produce the remaining energy deficit of
400 GWh, no trivial matter itself and not something the utility can wait out
and trust to the unproven Muskrat transmission line to resolve.


Hydro generation is essentially a fixed cost business with no
production related variable costs – pay the overheads and the energy is
practically free.  Thermal generation has
the substantial variable cost of fuel.
Holyrood burns Number 6 type fuel, presently forecast in the
GRA at $86.68 (CDN$) per barrel average cost in 2018.  The plant’s energy conversion rate is 608 KWh
per barrel leading to a fuel-only cost of 14 c/kwh.  The standby combustion turbine plants are
both less efficient than Holyrood and they burn higher-price diesel: the fuel
energy cost is typically double that of Holyrood, therefore 2018 costs might be
28 c/kwh. 
The 400 GWh of turbine generation computes to a fuel cost of
$112M.  The 400 GWh assigned to Holyrood will
add $56M in fuel cost.
NL Hydro will want to recover these costs from
ratepayers.  Based on 7000 GWh total
island energy sales, recovery of this unplanned $168M fuel cost would require a
rate adjustment of 2.4 c/KWh to be passed on to all customers for a period of 1
If these costs are treated under the 5-year Rate Stabilization
Program to defer and average exceptional cost items, substantial interest costs
are added and the rate premium would be 0.5 c/kWh minimum over 5 years.  However, a 5-year period overlaps the enormous
future Muskrat price hike increasing rate shock effects.  
and the PUB

The PUB will be confronted with several options should these
costs come to bear.

The Board may deny NL Hydro part or any of the cost recovery
if they find more prudent management could have reasonably avoided extra fuel
costs.  As precedent, the PUB rejected a
February 2016 request by NL Hydro to recover turbine fuel costs that winter which
NL Hydro attributed to a similar low water problem.  As Uncle Gnarley summarized later that month,
in a blog post titled “Incompetence In Real Time”, the poor state of
maintenance at Holyrood was the root cause of the issue and therefore
ratepayers should be spared the cost.

With the power of hindsight, it can also be surmised that the
urgent low reservoir situation faced by NL Hydro in winter 2015-16 wasn’t truly
urgent at all.  Reservoir energy was over
500 GWh better than today and was easily at or above historic average levels
before December yet the application stated the energy deficit was an astounding
1200 GWh.  This level of estimating error
seems to the Nalcor way and is not limited to the Muskrat project.  As further indication of possible subterfuge,
while the historic water level average line is included in last week’s report,
it was absent from the February 2016 application.

Unlike two winters ago, the problem of winter 2017-18 is
substantial and real, and it is likely the PUB will have to fairly consider
this situation.  Recovery of any approved
amount is likely to be considered in tandem with other rate increases including
the 0.9 c/kwh increase made July 1, 2017 and the proposed increases of 0.7
c/kwh July 1, 2018 and 0.6 c/kwh January 1, 2019 in the GRA presently under
review.  The PUB may ultimately decide to
do a highly customized 2 or 3 year recovery period to clear the slate before
Muskrat rate hikes of an additional 5-10 c/KWh arrive by 2021.

The “Near Term Generation Adequacy Report” goes into some
detail assessing available generation capacity and concludes that NL Hydro has
adequate reserve margin and will be reliable under their normal assumptions for
generation equipment availability.  At no
point, however, does the report indicate that the three combustion turbines
will be used for steady baseload power generation which will often reduce or
eliminate the reserve margin needed to avoid major outages.

When those standby resources are pressed into full-time
service, they are also at risk of suffering new and unanticipated failures that
may lead to their derating or complete unavailability.  The same applies to the Holyrood plant whose ongoing
life cycle extension program is a feat of maintenance engineering by the line
management and staff tasked with keeping it running. 

NL Hydro needs to rerun its report with decreased hydro efficiency,
lower hydro energy availability, combined with revised assumptions when using
standby turbines for baseload power generation. 
The highest-level stress cases in last week’s report already look bad
but NL Hydro seems to dismiss them as unlikely. 
It is quite probable that a properly revised model will show
considerably increased risk of major outage events: the unlikely could be
become the probable case.

While NL Hydro does have capacity assistance contracts,
principally with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper and a few other far smaller
sources, these provide for load curtailment or for Deer Lake Power to add
capacity for short bursts of up to a few hours duration only and for only so
many successive days.  These measures
will help to a point but in the event of multiple long-duration equipment
failures and a serious hydro reservoir issue, the benefits will be limited.

NL Hydro is scheduled to present their overall Winter
Readiness Report to the PUB in early December. 
Let’s hope that report will contain a much more thorough approach to
energy reserves and operating philosophy and that the PUB will not hesitate to
demand clarification if it comes up short.

Plan for
The potential for breakdowns during high load periods will be
the greatest in recent memory and certainly since the Dark NL event of January
2014.  Much of the present spike in
capital program work at NL Hydro is being spent to address deficiencies
identified in reviews (mainly by the Liberty Group) completed after Dark NL,
however, plenty of the recommended work still lies ahead in the 2018-2022
Capital Plan.  This winter’s real-world
stress test of a partly upgraded system is coming a few years too soon for

Is NL Hydro ready for major outage events? What is their
operating plan to minimize outages? How and when do they intend to communicate
the low reservoir problem to the public? 
Is there a contingency plan for days when the reserve margin drops below
desired levels other than saying listen for the “power watch warning” and asking
the public to down their heaters?  Early
notice to the public of a challenging winter ahead could result in their taking
important individual actions to prepare themselves for difficult circumstances.

Likewise, is the Government ready to deal with the issues of
vulnerable people at risk or will a different Premier soon say he does not see it
is as a crisis about to happen?

For many of the public, this event could be their personal
tipping point to act on getting their energy consumption down.  It is inevitable that this will happen before
the full measure of Muskrat-driven rate increases occur in 2021.  Together with recent and projected rate
increases, the possibility of a one-time fuel cost recovery charge could increase
rates by about 40% in the space of 18 months since July 1, 2017.  Those who are contemplating switching off
electric resistance heating, should hardly need more motivation.


The Pro-Muskrat crowd – particularly the New Muskrateers,
Ball, Coady, and Marshall – will likely attempt to spin the issue as a
justification for Muskrat Falls and will laud the potential for mainland energy
interconnection to prevent this from ever happening again.  Such boasts would be to ignore terrible past
decisions, the possibly extraordinary price of imported power, and the
remaining opportunities to reduce future hardship. Had the right decisions been
made, an isolated island system could have withstood this low water event at a
fraction of the fuel cost and with a miniscule capital program relative to
Muskrat.  It may still prove to be the
most sensible solution available if the elusive Muskrat can be killed.


NL Hydro, Near Term Generation Adequacy Report, November 15,
2017: document not yet uploaded to PUB website or not located; obtained through
public email release
NL Hydro, General Rate Application 2017, see p.144 of pdf for
2018 Energy Forecast:

Uncle Gnarley post, “Incompetence in Real Time”, February 22,

NL Hydro application to PUB, February 5, 2016, for turbine
fuel costs arising from alleged low reservoir level concerns:


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?


  1. First, thanks for reading the Uncle Gnarley Blog. The continued growth in readership makes it an increasingly important platform on which express opinions about public policy issues.
    Presently, readers have an opportunity to comment once or several times and otherwise evaluate the expressions of others.
    As Blog Administrator, I have a duty to monitor comments and to ensure those that cross the line into the uncomplimentary arena are taken down.
    Equally, I want all readers – including the occasional ones – to not be distracted or turned-off by what sometimes seems less than thoughtful or disparaging comment. Every commentator can help elevate the discussion by being respectful, generally staying on topic, and by not over using the Comments section.
    Blog writers invest hours of their personal time conducting research and providing meaningful analysis. I’d like to think we all enjoy the work and it is gratifying, too, when individuals use the Site to have their say at this critical time.
    By all means leave your comments. But please be sure that – before the "PUBLISH" button is pressed – you have respected other commentators and readers, too.
    Finally, your “Shares” on Facebook and Twitter are welcomed. They help bring the conversation to an even broader group. In short, we can all play a part in making the Uncle Gnarley Blog the most open and used democratic forum available for political discussion that affects Newfoundland and Labrador. Thanks again for reading the Blog. – Des Sullivan

  2. Thank you Des for providing a forum for informed debate. The issues discussed here find no airing on traditional media and are invaluable in this age of government living in an alternate universe and media losing any vision of being the Fourth Estate.

    Thank you for providing a place where democracy can still breathe and information and analysis can flow.

    At the JRP I raised the issue of climate models showing significantly lower water levels in the north. Nalcor batted that suggestion away as usual claiming they had run climate models that showed the contrary.

    Like all the data Nalcor used garbage in, garbage out seems to characterize their work.

  3. So where are we 10 or so years after muskrat reared its ugly head, 10 to 12$ billion spent on muskrat and now looking down the barrow of a possible dark no again in the winter of 2018. Omg what decisions made, you couldn't make this stuff up. No, not blaming all low water levels on muskrat, because ther is only one God that has control over the amount of rainfall. How about the wind that blows is that down too, lol, and by how much, come on nalcor give us those numbers too, you are the so called experts in that field too. How much wind power has been added to the grid in the last 15 years. Think plantet nl alluded to it in his posting at 100 kW, at fermuse and st. Lawrence. Yup, the wind still blows at cape race, cape bonivusta, cape bauld and cape Ray, and all places in between, and never no wind at all those locations at the same time. How about the power from central, after closure of paper mill, is that being brought to the Avalon where it is needed? What is the status of the second line from bay despair, water has been spilt from there for years, are we still doing it? How is ns going to get power from bay despair in the next couple of years, are they just hoping for more rain? Would like for someone in the know to comment on some of these, especially on the status of more power available to the Avalon from bay despair and that line. What a mess nalcor and government has made, what boondoggles, and on top of that some of them may be silly enough to start crowing about their silly notio, like told you…we need power from muskrat. For Gods sake don't go there.

    • AC:

      That line is almost complete and ready for commissioning—that is where the 2 young men were killed this summer.

      That line was planed as part of the original Bay dEspoir install but never constructed—it is for redundancy for the Avalon supply.

      Maybe someone else can comment/confirm, but wasn't DarkNL instigated by issues at Sunnyside with the existing 2 lines from Bay dEspoir and further compounded by Holyrood limitations?


    • During DarkNL, we operated for hrs on only one line to the Avalon instead 2. Not only was there loss of hundreds of MWs of power with the 2nd line out, but by overloading the single line over 30 MW of additional transmission losses occurred on the single line. As both line were normally loaded to capacity, the 3 rd line was long planned for more reliability and also reduces overall transmission losses, so some more energy becomes available. But that may only be in the order of say 10 MW or so.
      But the 3 rd line only goes to Western Avalon, and not as far as Holyrood, so the full benefit to the Eastern Avalon is not there, as I see it. We do not have the advantage of 3 lines of island hydro to the east of Long Harbour area.
      Perhaps others could comment.

    • Yes, this is a good example of keeping the things that matter away from the public, or make it difficult to know, except for those that are in the know. As the average Joe, I raised this question yesterday morning, and I am no expert on hydro, but as an average citizen I need to be informed. Thanks to the persons that commented and provide some info on these lines. So my real question, by those in the know, if this third line existed 10 years ago, there would have been no need to even consider muskrat for power to the island. If this is a fact, then those responsible, should be held to account of this 15$ billion boondoggle, yes and even hung. Who do I blame, hydro persons, nl power personnel, all elected MHA's in the past 15 years, and those proud nalcor personal, and of course the brave, useless media. Is it not the media job to keep us the people informed on important matters, like 15 $ billion boondoggles, rather than all of them crowing around the rnc and rcmp every day to see who might have got a parking ticket and the like at the court house. Do your job for f….k sake.

    • The original intent of the third line was to eliminate transmission limitations (thermal constraint) on the existing two lines and to improve the efficiency of Holyrood operations as it would delay start up of the first Holyrood unit in the fall of the year and allow shut down sooner in the spring as more energy could be imported from off the Avalon.

      Back in 2012, Hydro installed a capacitor bank at Come By Chance that helped voltage issues on the existing two lines but also enabled the import of an extra 120MW over the existing two lines and helped delay the start up of the 2nd and 3rd units at Holyrood, thus improving efficiency.

      With the interconnection of the Labrador Island Link there is the possibility of the system going unstable when a fault (read short) to ground occurs near Soldiers Pond. The third line eliminates that issue, hence the delay to now. It was a good call on Hydro's part to do so.

      PENG2, the initiating event of DarkNL was a transformer failure at Sunnyside that was not cleared from the system quickly enough due to a breaker that failed to open properly. Transformer and breaker issues at Holyrood also added to the event duration.

      There's a blog post that gives a longer summary on the 3rd transmission line and some of the comments made on it. http://kurtbsullivan.blogspot.ca/2016/02/that-darned-third-line.html

      There's quite a bit wrong with this particular Gnarley post, so I wouldn't advise putting too much faith in it and certainly not the referenced post "Incompetence in Real Time." It's conclusions are completely off.

      An Engineer.

    • Thanks for clarifying the benefits of TL267, limited as they are, but if you want to challenge the basis of the original posting, feel free to clarify – too bad you didn't post 2 weeks ago when most readers were here.

      What is possibly the worst low water problem in memory is surely not fake news. The risks in terms of eventual cost and potential for capacity issues seems important enough to make public.

      You seem to have detailed knowledge but you dismiss the post as "quite a bit wrong" yet provide zero evidence as to why. Where does the essence of the low reservoir explanation, and the risk of abnormally high fuel costs and hard use of standby equipment leading to increased probability of failure go off the rails? It fundamentally isn't that complicated a scenario.

    • Work schedule and the need for some small amount of research delayed my commenting on anything in this blog.

      I take exception to the tone of these blog posts that sensationalize the issues, like low reservoir in flows. To keep it relatively short, let's look at two points in the post, to see where it goes wrong. These are both from the Precedent and the PUB section.

      Quote 1:
      "The Board may deny NL Hydro part or any of the cost recovery if they find more prudent management could have reasonably avoided extra fuel costs. As precedent, the PUB rejected a February 2016 request by NL Hydro to recover turbine fuel costs that winter which NL Hydro attributed to a similar low water problem. As Uncle Gnarley summarized later that month, in a blog post titled “Incompetence In Real Time”, the poor state of maintenance at Holyrood was the root cause of the issue and therefore ratepayers should be spared the cost."

      In reality, the PUB rejected the February 2016 application from Hydro as it already had a similar deferral account before the board in the 2015 general rate application which was approved. One simply has to read the PUB order to see that. The Board and other parties simply instructed Hydro to use that one, and they have used it. It's called the Energy Supply Deferral Account.

      The "Incompetence is Real-Time" blog post is just awful. Mr. Sullivan completely misinterepted the hydrological information available to him. There's a post here explaining it in detail: http://kurtbsullivan.blogspot.ca/2016/02/low-reservoir-levels-really.html

      Quote 2:
      "With the power of hindsight, it can also be surmised that the urgent low reservoir situation faced by NL Hydro in winter 2015-16 wasn’t truly urgent at all. Reservoir energy was over 500 GWh better than today and was easily at or above historic average levels before December yet the application stated the energy deficit was an astounding 1200 GWh. This level of estimating error seems to the Nalcor way and is not limited to the Muskrat project. As further indication of possible subterfuge, while the historic water level average line is included in last week’s report, it was absent from the February 2016 application."

      Reservoir levels in December 2015 were better than they are today, that's true but the 1200GWH number references January 2016 when the application went into the PUB and water management experts/tools started to tell Hydro they need to add thermal generation due to low water levels. At that time storage levels were slightly worse than they are now. So again, misintepretation of data leads to overblown conclusions. There are some other examples as well.

      Yes, the inflows are low now but they were high in the spring during the snow melt. Some reservoir water levels are low but some are also high. Holyrood is in better shape now then it was last year due to the replaced boiler tubes and due to some other upgrades. Also missed in this post is the possibilty of importing power from Nova Scotia, if needed, the Maritime Link is due to be energized this week.

      I don't think this inflow issue is as big a deal as the blogger is making it out to be.

  4. I don't understand where the 21% total energy used growth came from over the last five years. Is this the tail end of the housing boom that was primairily baseboard heat?

    Neglecting holyrood for decades and allowing it to deteriorate was incompetent. Not pursuing demand destruction via heat pumps or actively discouraging electric resistance heat was incompetent. Thwarting new wind generation and giving Nalcor a monopoly is morally bankrupt. The diesel turbines and their expensive fuel is terrible stop gap measure.

    If Nalcor gives NLP a 9.8% increase, we are likely to get another 10% on our bills. More worrying then that is that the whole thing can rapidly fall apart. A turbine breaks, the thermal unit has to go down for emergency maintenance and we will be living with rotating blackouts.

  5. Blame it on the dog berries. Who has not noticed that this year we have the most abundant supply of dog berries I have ever seen in over half a century.
    Folklore says a lot of dog berries means a hard winter. The word hard I had taken to mean cold and windy and lots of snow. The rationale is that mother nature supplies lots of dog berries as a way to feed the birds during these harsh conditions. I am not aware of anyone doing a scientific assessment of the theory, but I had intended to make note of this years abundance, and that so far we are having an unusual mild and pleasant fall, the grass still very green and growing…….as if to prove the dog berry folklore false.
    But in recent weeks I have grown concerned about the shortage of rain, and the impact on our electricity generation this winter. So this piece is a timely one. Perhaps it depends on what the meaning of HARD is when describing winter……….low rain fall alone can qualify as being hard conditions, and a hard winter, when electricity gets rationed.
    Perhaps by spring we can define or redefine the dog berry connection.
    And I wonder if Nalcor makes assumptions based on dog berries and other data………..I mean they are wrong most of the time.
    Winston Adams

    • You are out doing your self again, being a engineer, but must pay close attention to Mother Nature as well, as she will fool you just as you think you are in control. But understand that was some if the info that nalcor used in coming up with their rational fir muskrat, dog series, moon creators, and sunspots along with corona borellas (norther lights) all went into the witches nalcor brew and named it musk rats. May as well laugh as cry, we are over a barrow, and no escape.

    • Don't be so pessimistic. As Winston and most Engineers believe, it is possible to move NL towards a better Energy management regime. NALCOR and past mismanagement of the file is but a blip, etc. Crisis is opportunity somebody said. Where there is a will, there is a way.

    • Will forget about trying to stay warm from a wood burning stove. Last week a homeowner and his wife from Cormack was up on the back road picking up some wood lefted by a woods contractor and just started to saw it up when two Forestry workers drove up and told him to stop and leave all the left over wood there. Its going to be #ColdDarkNl….

  6. Would like to be among those who will offer their congratulations to UG, friends and bloggers, for the part they played in public pressure on government to call this inquiry in muskrat. It was your unrelenting and digging to try and present some facts that wet kept secret by nalcor and others that convinced government to do the right thing and call a public inquiry. I am sure UG and others will not rest on their laurels in the coming 2 years.

  7. First impressions on the 'inquiry' (?) — a limited and backward-looking inquiry, focused largely on the options, project management, contracting and costs. The 'test' is on the 'reasonableness' of past government/Nalcor decisions given the information that was available at the time !!

    There seems to be little if anything about the risks associated with the WMA, NS, methymercury, etc. and whether a benefit-cost analysis is needed of the project continuing and/or modified in a way that could reduce/mitigate the long term negative impact of this continuing fiasco.

    In short, further obfuscation that lays the foundation for government to say (right after the 2019 election) that now that we know "what happened" with Muskrat Falls, we can now safely move forward with Gull Island.

    A political initiative.

    • Well said Maurice. There is also no mention of looking at the spur engineering adequacy. It is also troubling that the lone Commissioner has the "discretion" to have a forensic audit. No guarantee that there will be one.

      There is much left to be done on getting to the bottom of the MF debacle.

  8. The Premier states that as of June of 2016 the project was 48% complete. That's more than 6 months after he took office. Can someone remember the date when Stan Marshall and Premier Ball officially stated this project was too far along to stop? And without facts to support. I think people have been calling for the project to be stopped well before this date and told it was too far along. This appears to be a mess the Liberals wanted to unfold thus not stopping or questioning it until now… improving their chances of another 4 years when the PCs are fully blamed… as per Coady's last jab… the project they inherited. I am not of any political stripe but I am disappointed in that this is more about politics than the ratepayer.

    • Robert, I certainly do vote and I do it based on party member versus the party. I am not sure what you mean about 'seriously consider'. Aren't they not all the same? As per Keiths comment, this project would have gone ahead no matter what with all parties supporting it. I am not sure who I am to consider moving forward as the choice is rather pitiful. Ball who suspiciously sat on this for 2 years only is now concerned how this was able to happen (He was an enabler). Davis is, well, quite silent as the opposition – Who'd want their parties dirty laundry aired? And Earl was only ever good for a sound bite if he could answer a question without straying from topic but he's now exited the building. So seriously, where do I put that X?

    • dm, Back in the day, sadly, Joey came up with a third option; I believe he called it "Reform". There are many examples where the corrupt parties are replaced with people who want a better deal for the "People". It's going on all over the World, Zimbabwe comes to mind. The Social Credits in BC and the PC's in Saskatchewan come to mind. Independent, progressively-minded people in NL need to associate into such a movement and party. History repeats, and NL voters prove this again and again. "enablers" too can be replaced.

  9. One item not considered here is the Maritime Link. It is scheduled for completion at the end of 2017 and should provide access to energy if needed. Hell, that is Nalcor's plan to reduce usage of Holyrood anyway.

  10. Understandable that many want to go off topic ( as I never do) and comment on the Inquiry. But the topic is that we may likely be facing a water shortage on the island this winter.
    While the weather is mild, and one would expect using less oil burning at Holyrood in this mild weather, the reverse is true, they they burning more oil to avoid even a bigger problem just ahead. And NS is expecting to use our island water power, and NS has no power that we can import………..so a possible crisis ahead, expecting more than our aging thermal plants may deliver, not to mention perhaps 160 million in fuel costs, and a serious jump in rates.
    Should this have been foreseen? Will it happen more often in the future with climate change?
    Should the power companies and govn takes steps to reduce the impact of such events going forward? Or, again, make more false assumptions instead of prudent decisions?

    • Winston:

      It was foreseen and discussed in 2014—this is not a new issue, just not really a high priority in the media as there was still some happy inebriation with MF at that time.

      Unfortunately, the line is up but nothing can flow for a while—-UC is AC and the MF-east line and infrastructure is set for DC, so we can all rest easy knowing no UC power on the island for a while yet.

      Also, I will make 1 correction to your post, small point but it does make the situation at bit more dire— "And NS is entitled to use our island water power,…", NS is entitled contractually to island power independent of MF being operational as far as I understand. And even if we wanted to import, the infrastructure is ready on the NS side to allow us access to a surplus market supplier—so no help coming there.

      Personally, I cant understand the thinking of TPB–to make it simple, who sells trades their car before the replacement is ready to go home?

      The contractual situation for MF is ridiculous as best and borderline negligent at worse.


    • While the July to Oct rain is down over 40 percent , the 10 month average is down about 24 percent…..and we now go into the heavy demand season, with electric resistance heaters..
      I had calculated, in 2012, that customer efficiency and conservation could knock some 600MW off our winter peak load,(about 35 percent) most from space heating. A 2015 report by ICF for Nfld Power , if memory serves , showed a 31 percent potential reduction just off residential energy use, most via minisplits heatpumps and insulation. No serious consideration was given to this.
      Robust measures in this direction would handle serious downturns in rainfall reductions. I had proposed in 2012, less than 1 cent increase in power rates to fund a 50 million a year rebate program, reducing consumption for residents over 30 percent and reducing yearly energy bills.
      I cited the benefit of conserving water resources during dry years as an added benefit for system reliability.
      UG suggest this year may be the tipping point for many to abandon electric heat, saying we may need 270 MW of supply that we don't have. More specifically, he should suggest abandoning electric resistance heat(baseboard and duct heater) and switch to electric efficient heat pumps and wood or wood pellets.

      Nfld has not adopted the progressive position that says that customer Efficiency IS a energy source. The 4 winter months our grid peak load nearly triple. But a Efficiency plan requires ramping up year by year. If we had started a decade ago reducing 27 Mw per year (NS is reducing by about 50 MW a year) the efficiency source of 270 Mw would now be achieved.
      Yet we prefer to spend hundreds of millions on fuel for Holyrood and for the gas turbines.
      And as PENG2 suggests, …it seems we are now obligated to spend million on fuel to feed Nova Scotia, while facing a water short fall here………so Nfld residents will see increased rates here from fuel burning, to heat NS houses Free power and below cost rates for NS was not enough……….we need to burn fuel , increase our green house gas emissions, and foot the bill for that too. There is helping our neighbour, and then there is inviting your neighbour to rob you!. Seems we have done the latter…..all with signed contracts.
      Do we need Ball's 2 year inquiry to know some of the answers already? And are we making prudent decisions in delaying a good Conservation and Efficiency Plan, while now facing a serious water shortage?

  11. Listening to Ball's verbal diarrhea regarding the inquiry makes me ill. Its so embarrassing to listen to a man who is so incapable of making a decision. We are in so much trouble. How delusional is this man to think anyone will vote for him again. Sadly, people will actually vote for a man who did absolutely nothing for 4 years. Life is all about making decisions, Ball has no skill in this regard.

  12. What's the use of having an "inquiry" before the forensic audit?

    Talk about putting the cart before the horse… it's like the police launching an investigation because the supposed victim claims he MIGHT have been robbed.

    This all smacks of an attempt at distraction and cover-up… this showboating by the truth-challenged individual who presided over the ED MARTIN SEVERANCE PAY SCANDAL, DWIGHT BALL… with the ineffectual NALCOR PATSY SIOBAHN COADY at his side… appears to be yet another attempt at diversion to appease the vile Nalcor-politico cabal while trying to mollify the proles.


    • Yes but an audit is only part of what will be needed. The inability to recommend charges to individuals or organizations is a huge red flag.

      A drawn out process taking two years, until after the next election to report by a single politically appointed commissioner stinks of a political smokescreen. Given how inadequate recent inquiries like the Dunphy Inquiry were this is cause for concern. Compare the timeline to the Site C review which takes six months and has adequate resources to give informed advice.

      Is there any political party that will push for a speedy fiscal audit empowered to recommend charges or will it be lonely voices from the peanut gallery informing the public and pleading for the unfolding human tragedy to stop before it is too late?

    • Annoy 22:58, I like your analogy, but the fact is we know we were robbed, we were sold on 6$ billion and the charge has doubled to over 12$ billion, just a small chunk of change in the difference. Why were we sold on 6 in the begging because nalcor and govt were dishonest. And an inquiry is much broader than an audit, and if the judge his worth his salt, he will determine how and why they were dishonest, so it may not happen again. There are those who may be planning a bigger and more dishonest boondoggle, gull island, so if it can prevent another boondoggle then this inquiry will be worthwhile and save us billions more in the future. Yep …think there are some that are champing at the bitts to get gull going, and willing to low ball it to get it going and to serve their own egos, and that's exactly why we are in a 15 $ billion muskrat today.

  13. As to the topic, and the cost and impact of likely water shortages this winter, here are some figures:
    Muskrat power : greater than 60 cents per kwh, time to recover cost at 12.7 billion ..never
    Existing island hydro , about 3 cents per kwh average
    Gas turbine operation for fuel :28cents per kwh
    Holyrood plant fuel :14 cents kwh

    Energy Efficiency: equipment payback time
    Institutional buildings with gnd source heatpump ……… 21 years
    Institutional , commercial buildings with air source HP to water heat….11 years
    R2000 house with minisplits HP for heat 10 years
    Regular houses with minisplits HP for heat 6 years.
    Nova Scotia Efficiency Corp mixed measures for efficiency savings , 2.5 cents cost per kwh saved
    Payback time for measures above when power rates doubles: half the time indicated (so 3 years for house efficient MSHP HP heat)
    Pellet stove fuel : now 30 percent less costly for energy than electricity at present rates.
    MSHP electricity energy saving :60 percent or more with a good system compared to baseboard heaters
    If power rates double, then MSHP and pellet stove energy savings double.

    Is this a tipping point for making heating decisions? Seems so, for reliability and reducing the grid peak demand. Of course the right time was prior to Muskrat sanction…..that is hindsight…………decisions now require foresight. Does Ball have energy policy foresight? Has he learned lessons from Muskrat to apply to the rain shortage crisis for electricity production this winter? Is our Consumer advocate concerned?
    Winston Adams

    • Most people will look short term and say with dark nl looming again for this winter, better get ready for it, and buy a small generator for when they loose power, plus a few flashlights and candles oh yes, chips and pop, can't afford beer. Everything shut down for a few days, with rotating blackouts. As this is what government and nl power will be advising people to do. Do you know what percentage of people have or are switching mini-split pumps, I would guess a very small percentage. When will it happen, I think at a very slow rate. I don't foresee it happening on a large scale. Government will not encourage people to do it, very few incentives, so I don't think we will see the 40 percent elasticity in energy in the short term when hydro cost rise, that has been predicted on this blog. People will scream for lower hydro rates, and government will promise them for election purposes. Any and all oil money will go to pay for the cost of muskrat which was the plan right from the beginning. So get her done bys, finish strong, and have nots will be have nots for ever.

    • Winston your comparison leaves out burning unprocessed (to pellets) wood. These costs are at least half of pellets making burning hardwood (in an EPA approved appliance properly installed) by far and away the cheapest source of heat. Assuming sustainable forestry practices there are zero carbon emissions from wood.

      This Bloomberg report shows that battery prices will drop by 70% by 2030 making electric vehicles cost competitive across all vehicle types. This will change energy consumption, production and distribution globally. It will become possible to run ones household and vehicle from energy harvested from ones roof in much of the US and Europe and southern Canada.


      This shows the folly of investing in dinosaur remote large generation projects when renewables and battery storage are changing the world.

  14. That yesterday's announcement coincides with the PM's visit to Labrador on Friday, speaks volumes of the greater Liberal conspiracies. Delay, Delay the apology about recent events, (Muskrat, Carbon Tax, Energy policy and mitigation as per Tom Adams), talk about the criminal residential schools. NL must suck up and deal with the grim future. The Inquiry is looking like a coverup which is not even starting until 2018. The quick review completed for Site C is already at decision stage. Very disappointing.

    • Disappointing indeed Robert. This is just more politically motivated obfuscation by this Liberal government. In the feudal kingdom of NL it matters not whether one elects tweedle dee or tweedle dumb, fealty to ones class rules. Even worse tweedle dumbest can't find its way out of the weeds to organize an opposition.

      NL needs effective political action now from unconventional sources to break the feudal death grip on the treasury. If only David Vardy and his friends would get more strident and move from analysis to action.

    • Thank you David Vardy, in your interview on the Current this AM, wherein you stated the inappropriate characteristics of the Inquiry; too drawn out, terms without consultation, continued financial support by Feds, high operational costs laid on ratepayers, fraudulent business plan and sanction, lack of competent Engineering and construction management, ignored risk analysis by SNC, self-serving of political/corporate interests, etc. etc.

  15. Opposite the Telegram story, on the terms of the Inquiry, was a Take Charge ad saying "rebate of 100.000 for on Dec 31 for Energy Star TVs and freezers".
    As recently discussed with Bruno, in Nfld we have almost a 12 month long heating season. This means that any energy saving from these items is just added to your baseboard heat, so essentially almost zero savings on your yearly power bill. If you burn wood oil or propane, the energy saved adds to those fuels as well.
    Anyone buying into this scam by the scallywags should understand that, despite an inquiry, it is business as usual of deceiving the public on electricity issues……..if they were actually concerned about past abuses on the 12.7 billion boondoggle, they would have abandoned this phony conservation scam.
    How many realize this is an energy saver scam?
    Winston Adams