Guest Post by David Vardy

Response from Minister Disappointing
The Labrador Land
Protectors presented a petition to government on May 9, 2017 calling for the appointment
of an independent expert panel on the North Spur.  It was signed by more than 1000 people. There
has been no response. Since that time the urgency of the panel has been raised.
It has been raised by new research conducted in Sweden as well as by
revelations flowing from the SNC risk assessment report released by the

The recently disclosed and disturbing SNC Lavalin risk
assessment report of April 2013, released by the Premier on June 23, 2017,
refers to the need for further geo-scientific information to guide remedial
measures and assess overall safety and stability. SNC Lavalin rated the risk as
“very high.” Whether Nalcor has successfully remediated these risks over the
period from April 2013 to the present is as yet unknown. It will take the work
of an independent expert panel to measure whether risks have been reduced or indeed
whether they can be mitigated or eliminated.

Minister Eddie Joyce

Ron Penney and I wrote the Honourable Eddie Joyce, the
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment,  on July 17, 2017 asking
that he exercise his powers under section 44 of the Water Resources Act to
cause a safety inspection of the North Spur component of the Muskrat Falls dam.
In our letter we advised that Mr. Robin Dury has now finished his MSc thesis on
Muskrat Falls. Dury’s conclusion is that it “does not form a safe and reliable
part of the impoundment wall.” He recommends that further testing be done. We
said that:
We have long felt that the only prudent approach is for
government to cause an independent expert panel to be convened to review the
safety of the North Spur. 
Given the certain loss of life and property in Mud Lake and
the lower part of Happy Valley together with the loss of the project should the
dam fail, we cannot understand the reluctance of government to take this step.
Given the track record of Nalcor any confidence in their work and that of their
consultants is surely misplaced.
You have a unique role in this issue and the statutory
responsibility to ensure the safety of the dam. If the North Spur fails the
responsibility will be yours.
We were deeply disappointed with the Minister’s response. In
his reply dated October 6, 2017 the Minister made reference to Section 48 of
the Water Resources Act and the requirement for a dam safety report to be filed
“within two years of the start of reservoir filling and a maximum of five years
after that.” He said that the Department will decide on when the first report
will be filed “once the Muskrat Falls reservoir has attained the fully (sic)
supply level of 39m above sea level.” We find this reply disturbing and quite
unrealistic. Such timing for a dam safety report is far too late and poses a
threat to lives and property, recognizing that water pressure rises in
proportion to the square of the increased supply level. Surely a dam safety
report should be conducted before the reservoir is flooded as well as after it
has been impounded.
A copy of our letter to the Minister is attached as Annex
A”. The Minister’s reply is in Annex “B”. 
In his letter the Minister states “independent third parties
including MWH International and Hatch have also reviewed the North Spur
stabilization design”. This is not the role of MWH, the Independent Engineer.
 Nalcor, in their July 17, 2017 reply to our 20 questions responded to
question 19 as follows, confirming Nalcor’s agreement that this is outside of
their mandate. “It is not the mandate for the Independent Engineer to approve
any aspect of the design.”
Hatch, on the other hand, has been involved in work on
 the North Spur going back at least to 2008, so they do not bring the
“cold eyes” perspective which is required. Their work included dam break
studies, assessment of the existing wells and pumps as well as a three
dimensional hydrogeological study. 
We are also concerned that the Minister is relying so heavily
on the Dam Safety Guidelines, which are intended for man-made structures and
not remediated natural dams. 
So if we cannot rely on Hatch or on MWH International who else
reviewed the work. We had understood that Drs. Serge Leroueil and I. M. Idriss
had reviewed the geo-technical design work.  On July 17, 2017 we were by
informed by Nalcor that no such reviews have been conducted:
Geotechnical design was not reviewed by Leroueil and Idriss.
These two external experts were part of the study to ensure the design is in
accordance with the expected seismic loading. Leroueil is a worldwide expert in
sensitive clay behaviour and Idriss is the same in impact of dynamic on the
soil behaviour. Both experts gave advice while the study was underway. Idriss
gave a presentation and report during and after the study was completed.

Neither Dr. Leroueil nor Professor Idriss has reviewed the
geotechnical design. The question then becomes – who has?

This confirms the need for such independent reviews which we
believe should be conducted by an eminent panel of geo-technical experts and
not by an engineering company. 
We were disappointed that the Minister’s reply gave no
deference to the work of Dr. Stig Bernander or to that of Dr. Lennart Elfgren
and his graduate student Robin Dury. 
Muskrat Falls is the only hydroelectric project in the world
which relies on a large natural dam, underlain by sensitive glacial clays, and
raising major concerns for local communities. Experts from the Geological
Survey of Canada documented the extensive presence of glacial marine clays in
the Lower Churchill in their testimony to the joint federal-provincial
environmental panel. 
Risk assessment using the “limit equilibrium” model upon which
Nalcor and its consultants rely concludes that the glacial clays at the North
Spur do not impose a high risk of failure to people living and working in the
region. However, Dr. Stig Bernander advised that the methodology used to
evaluate the safety and stability of the North Spur is not valid because the
soil conditions at Muskrat Falls do not fit within the assumptions necessary
for applying limit equilibrium analysis.
Robin Dury, in his recent Master’s Thesis at the Lulea
University of Technology, has applied the more modern dynamic modelling that
Dr. Bernander considers necessary to evaluate the North Spur. He concludes that
the rise in the water level from 17 m to 39 m may trigger a landslide and that
the “North Spur does not form a safe and reliable part of the impoundment
wall.” This confirms Dr. Bernander’s conclusion that further study, including
field investigations, are needed to ensure that the Muskrat Falls project can
rely upon the safety and stability of the North Spur. The critical load bearing
capacity of the natural dam will not be able to stand up to the pressure, which
could exceed twice the capacity, which means the North Spur could fail when the
reservoir is filled, based on Dury’s research. Dr. Bernander has reaffirmed
these conclusions in his recent report summarized by PlanetNL with a link
provided by Uncle Gnarley.
Related to this post:
The risk of failure cannot be dismissed on the basis of the
research undertaken to date, which must be updated, using the most modern
models, applying tools which take full account of soil porosity and allow for
realistic assumptions on “soil deformation behaviour”. Unless this more modern
and advanced approach is applied to model the dynamic properties of sensitive
soils under stress we cannot claim that the North Spur is safe.
We have to entertain the possibility that the natural dam is
not safe and cannot be remediated. This would be the worst case and most
unthinkable scenario, requiring that the province write off its full investment
at the generation site. In this context it is important that the research be
updated as soon as possible. If remediation is not possible then the project
should be terminated.
It is alarming that the response from the Department of
Municipal Affairs and Environment is so seriously flawed and so clearly
dependent upon the counsel of Nalcor Energy, whose expertise in these matters
is highly suspect. As we said in our July letter to the Minister, given the
track record of Nalcor, any confidence in their work and that of their
consultants is surely misplaced.

An independent review of the geo-technical research and
remediation for the North Spur should be embraced openly as a prudent course of
action. This review should be initiated by government, given Nalcor’s defensive
posture and its failure to take action on its own.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador should appoint an
independent panel of geo-technical experts to conduct the review necessary to
ensure that the North Spur is safe.

David Vardy

Annex “A”: Letter to the
Minister July 17, 2017
Honourable Eddie Joyce, M. H. A.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and
West Block, Confederation Building
Box 8700
John’s, NL A1B 4J6
17, 2017
Dear Minister
We are writing to ask you to exercise
your powers under section 44 of the Water
Resources Act
to cause a safety inspection of the North Spur component of
the Muskrat Falls dam.
Mr. Robin Dury has now finished his MSc thesis on Muskrat
Falls and it is now available at:  . His
conclusion is that it “does not form a safe and reliable part of the
impoundment wall.” He recommends that further testing be done.
We have long felt that the only prudent
approach is for government to cause an independent expert panel to be convened
to review the safety of the North Spur.
Given the certain loss of life and
property in Mud Lake and the lower part of Happy Valley together with the loss
of the project should the dam fail, we cannot understand the reluctance of
government to take this step. Given the track record of Nalcor any confidence
in their work and that of their consultants is surely misplaced.
You have a unique role in this issue
and the statutory responsibility to ensure the safety of the dam. If the North
Spur fails the responsibility will be yours.
We are copying the Minister of Natural
Resources as well as the Deputy Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Environment,
Natural Resources and Labrador Affairs.
It is time for you to act.
Ron Penney and David Vardy

Annex “B” – Response From Minister


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. It certainly appears that Nalcor and Government have no intentions to take any steps whatsoever in addressing the concerns being expressed by those in the know concerning the North Spur and the project as a whole. Question! Is there any legal recourse to force action??
    If (when) the North Spur fails with loss of life and property and the whole boondoggle is dead and $Billions lost leaving us to pay for it, are lawsuits inevitable?? WHY ARE WE BEING LED TO SLAUGHTER???

    • Obviously, because we allow ourselves to be led.
      Bruno is calling for strident political action.
      How about a promise letter we can all sign that says we will never to pay one cent of MF power increased consumption bills, ever.
      The cash shortfall will bring it all crashing down, the consequences will not be pretty but what are they going to do, sue 200,000 fee payers, how long would that take to run its course through the courts? Cut off our electricity and allow us to freeze to death in the dark, the old Alberta adage about oil? Resettle the whole province to Cambridge or Gault or Leaf Rapids or Fort McMurray.

      There is a solution out there, we just have to push for it as a people, as a former nation, undivided and strong.
      Rise up, lambs, rise up.

      Hell no, we won't pay, Muskrat Falls can go away.

      Shut it down, stop it now, we don't want it anyhow.

      Any sloganeers out there more facile than me, please feel free to start shouting, we need anthems and marching songs and a few good rabblerousers to step to the fore.

      Anything but baaa, baaa, baaa which is all we hear to date.

  2. Well David like so many others you have engaged Nalcor with legitimate concerns about the risk to life and the asset from the inadequate and unreviewed plans for the spur remediation. You have made informed, impassioned and urgent representation to the appropriate minister and others urging care and concern for life and the project.

    You have now become aware, like so many of us before you, that no adequate independent review of either the financing or engineering have ever taken place. Nalcor is secretive, unresponsive and unchecked by government or regulators. We are all painfully aware that they are incompetent at best if not absolutely corrupted by their unchecked power buttressed by secrecy and an open chequebook.

    We cynics became aware of the arrogance and hubris of Nalcor early on. We also were horrified at the atrophied condition of your "democracy" that is stripped of any transparency and accountability. We both have friends that will be swept away if the warnings of Bernander and Drury are not heeded. Protecting them will take more than dispassionate disappointment of the Joyce abdication of his responsibility to act.

    You have acted responsibly, warned of the risks, intervened with the appropriate ministers and the government as a whole and have been slapped in the face and humiliated like the rest of us that dared question the imperious decisionmaking around MF.

    Surely it is time to move from analysis to strident political action to protect NL from a human and political tragedy!


  3. That's right, Joyce, ball el al have been put on public record. Ball et al now owns muskrat lock stock and barrel, as I have said before, the days of blaming Dannie and previous governments is over with comments like too far along to stop. Ball had is opportunity to pause and evaluate at the time of the last election. Could have been his campaign slogan, "pause and evaluate muskrat", that's what opposition parties are for, to have alternative choices and direction, rather than just carry on as the previous government. Why change the ruling party if there are no chance in policy or direction, may as well stay with the same government and allow them to be responsible for their own errors or boondoggles. Why take on another governments boondoggles if you are not going to fix it. Dannie, Eddie, and Cathy , plus others are off the hook, thanks to ball et al. They are laughing all the way to Florida….. When the dam fails, maybe during filling, as Dr. B has said, maybe at 32 meters, or maybe 2 or 10 years down the road, with a more than normal winter with more ice and water than normal, who will be left holding the ball?????

  4. If the reservoir is never filled, as PENG2 suggests, then the plant may be sold of for a billion dollars or less, and the buyers, Emera or Fortis, or both, can spend perhaps .5 to .75 to properly stabilize the Spur, by filling in the deep hole down stream and having a large low slope infil that loops around.
    So private shareholders and benefit at public expense….not unlike Come By Chance refinery that sold for 1 dollar. Perhaps that will part of a large Gull Isalnd plan that will see private investment as well…….Fortis has the capital and awaits an opportunity.

    • WA:

      I promote completion and 're-analysis' to avoid default, as you know. In the event a decision was made to sell off, I am not sure what we could assess as a value—I know in situations where I as the EOR have taken on infrastructure partially completed I always assess $0 so I could be conservative and recoup remedial works, especially if I were expected to take on the warranty of completion.

      More to Vardy's point, I don't expect any changes in the current plan to push ahead until the 11th hours. I believe we will then see some movement towards reconsideration on a number of issues where the background engineering is deficient.


    • PENG2 —- that would be consistent with the Nalcor playbook (wait/delay releasing new cost estimates, new work/cost needs, etc. until it is too late to stop).

      Liberal or PC action — what's the difference? Both dismissing the best interest of the people so as to comply with the demands of the financial supporters of the party.

  5. What politicians and many others do not realize is that geotechnical engineering is not an exact science. If it was, there would be no dry wells drilled by the oil industry.

    Two geotechnical engineers can arrive at completely different conclusions reviewing the same geotechnical data, based on their past experience. This is why there are differing opinions on the North Spur.

    In such situations, all other utilities convene a Panel of Experts to arrive at a consensus on the geotechnical issue.

    But NALCOR just does not understand that geotechnical engineering is not an exact science.

    Jim Gordon.

    • Jim, NALCOR are not very good Project Managers.

      Their cable TV background experience is about putting up antenna and cable, flogging commercial TV signals, collecting dough.

      Any expectation that they can be made to understand geotech is folly.

      Very good to hear from you again. Enjoy your retirement, and the best of the Season.

    • JG:

      Exactly—geotechniques is not dealing with engineered materials (ie steel or concrete) where the properties are known, rather soil properties are assumed based on real world experience in a region and the investigation info is usually somewhat lacking.

      Now what conclusion is correct is TBP 'ie to be proven'.

      I would suggest if this were my design, there are things I would have done differently to give me a better sense of confidence.


  6. Joyce won't make a move on banning plastic bags because "he doesn't have all the information", so I wouldn't hold my breath on him making on a move on absolutely anything regarding Muskrat Falls / Nalcor. For the worst minister in the Confed, it's a toss up between him and Coady. Two useless peas in a useless pod.

  7. Poor old eddy Joyce is out of his league here sure he is still runnong around as if he stuck his finger in an electrical socket and took a shock to his system that fried the little brain matter that he was born with which wasn't much to start with. So to expect a reasonable response from this Minister was always a stretch.

  8. Lol, before I checked the name, thought it might be Jerome again, where he took Eddie on in the legislator, and announced that Eddie had grade eight education. But Eddie pulled a mohamed Ali on him, and floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee….

  9. From the last piece on UG, some brave soul by the name of Keith is considering taking up my offer of 4:1 odds on a bet that the North Spur will fail. I have proposed the time frame to for failure be within 1 year of the reservoir being filled.
    Keith must be pondering and having second thoughts, as he has not yet responded if this time frame is asking too much. The bet is for 50,000 dollars.
    Winston Adams

    • You don't think that those who assure us that the North Spur is safe , should put their money where their mouth is?
      And, I do not think I would lose such a bet, but could win 12,500. Maybe you are less certain,and consider I would lose?
      I had considered that parties to the bet might agree to donate winnings to the residents of the first flood from the boondoggle, those at Mud Lake in May 2017…….that would be up to anyone taking the bet.
      But the Land Protectors is a good cause.
      But also, I figure an essay on the value of your solar generation for Nfld can be constrctive, say 1000 words, for 500 dollars, to expose or support your view, which I suggest is a myth.
      But the MF North Spur risk I assess at 100 times more important: so to life safety and the lost of the asset… this can be constructive, I suggest.
      Meanwhile have the Land Protectors contact me and email me a copy of their financial statements for consideration.

    • As usual your tortured logic escapes me.

      You want an essay on an issue you have declared a myth? All parts of the planet get equal sunlight in the course of a year. In central NL and Labrador domestic (rooftop)solar plus battery storage cost 9 cents KwH. This is cheaper than post MF NL hydro cost of 22 or 17 (if Dwight reaches into another of your pockets for the cash). Please send the 500 bucks.

      The only one unwilling to put their money where their mouth is is the author of this bizarre challenge. Help the LLP if you have money to spare.

    • Bruno:

      I will state/cede a few facts:
      1) solar / wind will become increasingly important to our generation supply
      2) supply management will also BII
      3) alternate energy forms have been important for decades, now the focus is there more than ever
      4) caring for the enviro has always been important

      From your arguments, what I cant understand is how a community in a northern clim (say Nain, Nanasivik, Whitehorse, Baker Lake etc) can survive with a solar/wind system? I do understand the concept of storage, but can grasp how to generate/store sufficient energy to provide an area with 7-8 months of deep freeze.

      I accept that in certain conditions alternate energies are cheaper, but I believe over the longterm (ie over several seasons) the transmission grids we currently have are better suited.


    • Too bad, Bruno, you consider my logic to be tortured, but even tortured logic is better than little or no logic. Logic of science and math has been my strong point from childhood, but is now impaired somewhat, but I thought still adequate. Maybe it takes highly logically thought, like yours, which you suggest is very transparent, that it should not be contested.
      1. As to that the Spur will fail, if you agree it will fail, you can share my winnings if you wish to partake, unless you fear Nalcor is right as to stability.
      2. As to the cost benefit of electricity by solar: you stated this to be cost effective for Nfld, now you do your jackrabbit jump to suggest you perhaps mean only for central Nfld and Labrador. Most of our population is on the Avalon, and other coastal areas.
      You think your idea is worthy of 500 dollars without challenge!
      And you call the challenge bizarre. But as Dave Vardy says, and Robert Holmes, we need to plan our energy future. If MF never operates and shuts down, what do we do, we are back to needing 500MW peak thermal…….unless your idea is an important part of the future. Surely, 500 dollars is a token amount to get insight into your idea. There is considerable technical ability among Nflders, who all stay silent. Is there no one to accept this challenge? If not, I may have to expose the myth of solar for Nfld myself, and keep the 500.
      But first put some more logic and facts and truth into your 1000 word piece and forward it to UG.
      To say we get equal daylight is, in substance, like saying the Spur is stabilized to 1.5 safety factor…… re-think , least you need to be on the defensive like Nalcor. We don't need another boondoggle…… the Solar Solution…….we are not Australia, nor Arizona.

    • PENG2, you're right, remote communities cannot survive on wind/solar alone but they are the best place in NL to roll out more renewables, wind in particular, in order to offset diesel usage. This will give the biggest bang for the buck in reducing GHG emissions in those communities and reduce the cost of electricity for users (and the rural subsidy for interconnected grid users).

      Nalcor/MUN have experimented with a wind-hydrogen system in Ramea with mixed results. Last I heard they were replacing the hydrogen generator with a fuel cell as the generator performed poorly. I have not heard much of anything since though.

      I looked at adding a 5kw solar array and inverter to my house under the net metering policy. It would take 35 years to pay off, long past the life of the panels and inverter. No thanks. I'll keep an eye on the prices but I don't see it making economic sense for some time yet.

      Merry Christmas,


    • If you follow the whole string you will see my comments were for central NL. The only one to shift the playing field is you with your silly requests.

      I expect that $500 for easily establishing my proposition.

      I would never benefit intentionally from someones misfortune when I could have acted to prevent the harm. Keep your filthy money on the risk of failure. If you had honorable intentions you would contribute to LLP. You want their prospectus?? Are you investing in a stock or trying to facilitate social justice? Seems you are all hot air Winston.

    • Robert Holmes often speaks of Bell Island, for geothermal or geothermal/solar combined…….
      I have not given it much thought, but the mines originally came out at sea level, but later went underground under Conception Bay. I have no figures on volume or depth, but that they eventually flooded after the mines closed.
      It would appear to me that they may have potential for wind storage: the wind generation power, on good wind days pumping out the water creating a underwater reservoir, then when the wind is light, letting water re-flood the mines going through turbine/genertors, feeding back to the grid, conserving other water from rainfall.
      The depth defines the head pressure, and the volume can determine the overall capacity. Someone said such storage is about 80 percent efficient. Solar is about 20 percent efficient, but overall costs matters.
      I am not sure the concept of solar/ geothermal for bell Island, perhaps others can comment?
      Perhaps we need another 500 dollar challenge for the Bell Island asset?

    • PENG3:

      I am checking out other sources same as you—but haven't pulled the trigger yet, I expect soon taking into a redesign and reno of my current house.

      To me, with a disconnected transmission system the biggest costs is providing redundancy to multiple areas (or areas with special considerations of access). This is a big reason for my assessment that Churchill (whatever the source: MF/UC/LC) power should never travel the Anglo-Saxon route and the island should be considering more stand-alone options.

      Not sure your background PENG3, but if you have an opinion I would certainly ponder it.


    • Bruno,
      1.Perhaps my memory is failing, but I recall you referred to Nfld, not central Nfld?
      2 The challenges are to stimulate serious opinions backed by reasoned arguments, facts,and data, rather than hare brained schemes and off the cuff remarks…….we have had too many boondoggles in Nfld, do we need more? So, yes lets move the playing field. I propose to encourage it with such a challenge.
      3 My intend is not to benefit, I wound rather lose the money and the Spur stand solid. My intend is to show the shallowness of those that say the Spur is solid. There is little solid between Spirit mountain and the the TCH. I have proposed any winnings go to Mud Lake victims……so how do I win? I either lose 50,000, or lose 12,500. I win nothing neither way. You distort my intentions, deliberately it seems, with your "filthy money remark"….what filthy money? You seen rattled that your silly solar solution scheme should be challenged.
      4. As to the Land Protectors,I asked for their financial statements , not the prospectus. Many charitable or non profits are poorly run. I consider them good if 80 percent or more go to the causes intended, and no more than 20 percent for overhead and expenses.
      I have regretted, somewhat, donations to others (such as VOCM Cares, where money went for other purposes that they prefer.

    • 1. Read the string. You owe me $500.
      2. When someone meets your dumb challenges YOU move the goalposts. Stop pivoting.
      3. you want to bet on failure of the dam. I find that repulsive.
      4.You show just how much hot air you emit with this BS. Give the LLP money to stop the dam. They show much more integrity than you do. They are good to their word.

    • Bruno, think you deserve 500 dollars for a silly idea and that no one should challenge it. You might claim your sting goes back 5 years…….but it was just recent that I responded, and challenged your equal daylight amateur suggestion for solar for Nfld.
      2. What goal post did I move?
      3. I have long questioned the stability of the North Spur, and stated I believe it is unsafe. I just upped the ante to those who say it is safe, make huge profits off this scheme, and ask them to put their money where their mouth is. That is different then wanting the Spur to fail to profit, and you know the difference. I have stated the independent report on Mud Lake flood is wrong to put no blame on Nalcor. My record in comments on UG is public .
      3. The solar scheme, I submit is mostly BS, and hot air, but would allow you to better articulate your position and others to oppose it.
      4. Land Protectors, you, and all anti Muskateers has been unable to stop Muskrat. Their good report to the PUB got no results. Hunger strikes got no results. what will get results is double or more power rate hikes. Or mother nature may take down the Spur with help from Nalcor.
      5. Words are words, like these, and have little effect,and are opinions, some are more valid than others.
      6 A prise for words that have value, and stand up to scrunity, that are not false assumptions I suggest is of value. I suggest it would eliminate much of the hot air, that promotes false assumptions. I would not judge whether you are the winner or an opposing view the winner.
      Will you write your 1000 word piece for UG to assess if suitable for publication? Or just continue to attack the character and intentions of others. Your ideas may be good or bad, what are you afraid of?

    • Bruno
      Let me get this straight: You want me to write what should be your rational explanation of why solar generated electricity is a sound idea for Nfld, which I suggest is a silly concept, and contrary to my view (that it is not cost effective).
      And you want me to write it for you because you are unable to write a logically piece based on sound science and facts! Now that is, perhaps, the most silly thing you have said so far, and you say some dozzies.
      You say I am welching on your proof! What proof? I am sure you have convinced readers here that you have really proved your silly statement.
      And you say I have welshed on funding the Labrador Land Protectors. I challenged the Nalcor believers in the North Spur stability that their assurances is misplaced. I have had no contact with the LLP to welsh on. I share their concern for failure and flooding.
      What type of weed do you use, Bruno, that enables such good reasoning? I am on the waiting list for some medical grade stuff that may help pain from a twisted spine. But having never smoked, I fear some bad quality stuff, that may make my arguments no more lucid than yours. So I am not optimistic on weed, and may, seeing your inability to back up your proposition, think it prudent to reject the doctors recommendation.
      I see PENG3 puts little stake in your proposal, but think wind has potential, but solar….a 35 five year pay back.
      PENG3 could easily write a 1000 word piece to discredit your proposal. If so, and you made no better defence, than the 500 could easily go to him, by default. Try to engage someone else to write your piece for you, some solar panel supplier perhaps.
      Good to see the the original Nalcor engineer on this blog who wrote of false costing, followed by PENG2 and now PENG3 engaged. But most all are still silent.
      I am of the old school,in the 1970s, when Nlfd Hydro prudently spent our energy dollars. But I think there are still good engineers there, if allowed to voice their views.

    • PENG2, you're right that providing redundancy in an isolated system is a substantial cost. Liberty in its reports stated multiple times that NL Hydro relied on outages more so than other utilities it had worked with. Well, to provide the redundancy needed to get NL to the same reliability standard as the main interconnections in North America would have been prohibitively expensive. To me this stood out in the Liberty reports as a failing on their part, a failing to recognize the fact that NL is not interconnected with North America. I have some experience with the grids in the Yukon and NWT, where outages are more common, and I wonder if Liberty has ever worked in a system that small before.

      Anyway, onto to the Labrador-Island Link. The length of the interconnection doesn't particularly bother me, provided it is built strong enough. I know there are some questions regarding the standard to which the LIL has been built but Nalcor does have experience building transmission lines on the island (not in the Long Range Mountains as such though) so I tend to give them some slack on this one. Also, if you're going to be importing power you have to have redundancy in supply in case the import fails. That must be in the form of another import path, the Maritime Link, or on island generation. The latter is what the list of planned thermal generation presented as part of the MF project was for. As load on the island grew, new backup would be needed. In the future as wind/solar/batteries/small modular reactors, etc improve perhaps those are installed instead of diesel.

      As an import example, the HVDC Pacific Interie is 1400km long and rated for 3100MW. It covers close to half of Los Angeles capacity during peak and imports power from hydro in the Pacific NW down to LA during the summer. In winter power is sometimes sent north to power heaters in the PNW.

      This movement of power is another method of increasing renewable penetration levels. You can install a lot more wind if you have somewhere to move the power to. Texas is a prime example. They have spent billions installing transmission in order to move wind power around the state and maintain stability.

      Some have suggested we should have built the LIL and not MF. In my opinion that doesn't make sense, at least not until closer to 2041 when the UC contract is up. Hydro Quebec has little to no capacity to send us during peak time. I believe Nova Scotia has a little but it's coal based, though they are closer to the New England market from which we could have purchased power. Saying that, I think the Maritime Link was a good move. It would also have enabled us to more quickly ramp up the amount of wind generation we installed, though if your goal is to replace Holyrood we would have needed thermal generation to act as standby/balancing.

      A bit of a rambling post, but there it is. Now to help wrap some presents before I get in trouble with my wife.


    • PENG3 you are added to a growing list of MF engineers that do little to honour that ring.

      So you want us to buy that the expertise Nalcor hired to review NL Hydro reliability and maintenance standards did not know what they were talking about, is that it? Comparing the isolated system to utility standards set by the industry is unfair and uninformed? When we have swallowed that mouthful do you have ocean frontage in sunny Florida to sell us?

      MHI warned Nalcor to build transmission to 1 in 500 year standards. They blew the advice off and bragged they upgraded to a 1 in 200 standard in some areas. What experience do they have that trumps their own consultants advice? They have plenty of experience ignoring their own consultants recommendations. Is that what you mean?

      The willingness to dance with the devil and rationalize unprofessional, undemocratic, life and treasury threatening decisions made by unqualified political appointees is a disgrace.

      How much are those that know and do not speak responsible for the corruption and secrecy? Scrooges all.

      Merry Christmas.

    • And a bah humbug to you, Bruno.

      I don’t work for Nalcor though you seem to like painting anyone who may disagree with you as such.

      I don’t discredit Liberty or MHI’s advice or expertise. I have worked with MB Hydro in the past and believe there are good people there. Now, you will proceed to tell me they are all clueless morons because they proceeded with Keeyask and bipole 3.

      NL Hydro has 50 years of building lines here on the island.

      Don’t question my integrity as an engineer. You have no clue who I am. All it does is hurt your argument.

    • What does your fear to publish your name say about your integrity? You could be a 400 lb guy sitting on a bed.

      You defend MHI despite the unfolding Keeyask boondoggle and defend Nalcor ignoring the 1 in 500 year advice from MHI. You have mastered what Orwell called Doublethink believing both contradictory propositions at the same time without cognitive dissonance.

      Congratulations and give my best to big bro.

    • PENG3
      I have much respect for Liberty, but for the Jan 2013 outage, I soon became aware it was caused by salt contamination, as I suspected. Soon after I discovered that the report appendix by Nfld Hydro engineer had listed the event sequence with repeated flashovers by salt on the lines near Holyrood and at the terminal station. But by the time of the next year large outages, Liberty seemed too anxious to put all the blame of both outages on lack of mainteneance etc.
      It took 2 years in Liberty's final report to state that the 2013 one was indeed caused by salt flashovers, which Hydro knew and documented within hours of events.
      My assumptions why Nalcor did not press this was because salt was a problem they said would not exist on the Labrador infeed line…….which is BS, and was content to stay quiet on that.
      It remains to be seen how successful that line is, as on existing 69 and 138 kw, it has been a big problem, as it was in my days at Hydro. I doubt if the line you make comparisons too has that problem. As to icing loads ……we will see…..there may be problem areas, such as Sunnyside was that eventually got upgraded.
      MF biggest problem is the project cost, and the stability of the North Spur.
      Do not ignore family issues of this season to respond, but when time allows.
      Cheers to the UG gang, even Bruno, to enjoy this season. Merry Christmas and a happy New year.

    • Good morning Winston,

      I have a lot of respect for Liberty as well. Salt spray was the initiating event but old breakers and aged transformers added to the overall event. A proper breaker fail protection scheme would have sensed the stuck breaker phase and opened other breakers to isolate the fault. Hydro has since gone and implemented such a scheme. An older transformer is certainly more prone to failure in a fault as it’s windings and insulation weaken.

      Hydro had recognized the need to replace the air blast breakers, which are all problematic in my experience as they age, and transformers. In this instance, while they had started a program to replace them, they were too late to prevent #DarkNL.

      Insulator washing is a fairly common practice and I wonder if Nalcor has had to add that to the LIL operating costs. It would explain some of the large increase in O&M costs announced back in June.

      I had someone tell me that if the LIL were built to a 1-500 year event standard it would be the only thing left standing on the island after such an event and so it wasn’t worth the extra cash to build to that standard up front. I can see some logic in that compromise but would still have built to the higher standard. If I’m busy rebuilding other transmission lines after a big storm I don’t need to add to it by repairing the LIL as well. I don’t criticize as I’m not the one with all the info at hand to make the call. Good is good enough, I guess.

      Same thing with the tube failures at Holyrood. Hydro knew they were close to failure so why not preemptively replace them instead of waiting for failure to happen? Perhaps time and money didn’t permit it.

      I’m glad to see now that TL201 is being replaced with TL266. That was the worst performing line due to age. It has served its purpose and served it well. Now it’s time to move on.



    • Bruno, I think this quote is appropriate. The world seldom comes down to absolutes.

      “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
      F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack-Up", Esquire Magazine (February 1936).

      Merry Christmas,


    • The problem of course PENG3 is that a spur failure will be an absolute disaster. There is no room for equivocation. The issue requires bold action to resolve the quandary to avoid disaster, not unprofessional compliance to unscientific and unreviewed science. There is no virtue in holding both views that the spur will fail or not.

      Similarly your rationalization for the underdesign of the LIL demonstrates your lack of critical analysis. It is the weather events that will crash the towers in inaccessible stretches and leave the rest of the system intact that required building to 1 in 500 year standard. You invert the reality to rationalize ignoring consultants advice.

      Dark NL was clearly outlined again by those pesky consultants to be the result of Nalcor ignoring recommended maintenance. If you are independent how can you consistently defend the shoddy practices by Nalcor and their abysmal maintenance record ignoring consultants warnings?

      I maintain my proposition that your actions hold contradictory, not merely opposed ideas in mind. It is classic Orwellian Newthink. The stark contradictions still cause you no dissonance.

    • Bruno says failure of the spur is an absolute disaster, but the plant, at about 1/2 the project cost, leaves plenty more for unreliability of the transmission components to be a disaster. And add to this falling power demand, even if the spur holds and the line is ok. So, I suppose absolute disaster required failures on multiple levels.
      1/500 is no doubt a large additional cost, maybe much like proper stabilization of the spur. But the line may prove vulerable in spots, and may require beefing up, as happened with our existing 230kv around Sunnyside.
      What odds would Bruno state as to the spur failing, and all the line needing 1/500?
      Darknl was for two years of failure. As mentioned, 2013 was initiated by salt contamination, an act of nature, but spread as outlined by PENG3. As I recall, Holyrood could not be restarted from the Hardwoods gas turbine, for some 6 hours, taking that long for the salt issue to disappear for feedback. Holyroods own gas turbine was obsolete and non functioning……so the 2013 event, triggered by nature, and spread due to other issues. An Amex study, if memory serves, says such a salt issue at Holyrood could occur 1 in 10 years on average. To me this goes to the core of one aspect of why Nalcor was saying salt was NOT a contaminant for the DC line, when the risk was higher than other areas of the province. Likely an event several times per year.
      PENG3 wonders if insulator wash down may now be intended. I have never heard of that done by Hydro, but that Nfld power does so at times in the substations. Is this a practical thing for the GNP line, On what basis could salt be said NOT to be a contaminant for that line, in Nalcor documents? Where did that assumption come from and get by unchallenged?
      Meanwhile Bruno says PENG3 is void of critical analysis. And yet his proposition of equal daylight for Nfld would justify large investments for solar electricity here……and he ridicules critical analysis to that! Pot calling the kettle……..
      While Bruno is likely correct that weather events is the biggest risk for the transmission system, it is likewise mainly weather that makes his solar proposition of little practical use, except on a small scale. Did PENG3 say 35 year payback…..if so, that bit of critical analysis seemed to escape the mind of the Bruno proposition, and puts it too rest in less than 10 words.

    • Sorry I mixed my Orwell metaphors. I meant Doublethink. Does this not describe the curious contradictions you rationalize PENG3?

      "Orwell describes doublespeak as being a part of newspeak, which is the method for control of thought through subtle language. Doublethink adds control that eliminates uncertainty and so the whole belief system seems coherent.

      Doublethink is not hypocrisy as the person actually believes in both things, even though they contradict."

  10. The Darkest Hour:
    "We will neverrr,…..surrrenderrr". spoken is a low , pausing, calm but determined tone………that was Churchill, that I see from the audio of the time.
    "We will never surrender"…..spoken in a angry loud voice, from the new movie…..
    And they advertise this as the movie of the year. I lost any interest when seeing this promo clip. If they couldn't get that line right………
    Churchill like a angry Danny Williams trying to defend his his legacy fund project, the boondoggle. Maybe we will see him, DW, perform at the Inquiry.

    • This is a good summary of the themes this blog has struggled with and gives UG credit for daring to do what the MSM has failed to do for rate/taxpayers.

      It ties together the political corruption by provincial governments to overdesign, overestimate demand, shutter regulatory oversight, and swamp helpless ratepayers denied transparency or accountability. This is the opposite of what a utility is supposed to be about.

      This transition, from a utility designed to provide a service at minimal cost, to a bloated instrument of political patronage and corrupt practices like untendered sole source contacts (vs competitive bids that in Alberta brought in wind at less than 4 cents KwH) is a classic example of what Jane Jacobs called "monstrous hybrids".

  11. This decision acquitting eight people, including a journalist, of rioting in the inauguration riots should give Justin Brake at least a precedent to drop the outrageous charges against him for covering the MF protest.

    "There was no evidence to support whether or not these six willingly participated in the riots or aided and abetted the rioters,” said the juror.


    Is Muskrat just another Fed guaranteed carbon reduction(??), Plan for the Province?

    Who has the Energy file in NL? What are the Goals? Take some diesel fume spewing fresh produce carrying truckers off the road? How? Build a few greenhouses, based on solar/geothermal? Bell Island has prospects. Who is doing the feasibility? MUN Botanical? Get it on in 2018!

  13. Trying to make an intellectual powerhouse like Eddie Joyce comprehend a hydrodynamic principle such as the proportionate relationship between a fluid's pressure and the square of the volume it occupies would probably be like trying to make a boulder float on water.

  14. On a somewhat related topic… CBC NL's Here & Now sadly appears to have become little more than a video lifestyle magazine with an over-abundance of over-paid hosts.

    For every item of substance on that broadcast there's about 5 items of meaningless, feel-good pablum.

    I wouldn't really give a damn if it was a privately-funded enterprise, buts it's my tax dollars that are being used to broadcast mostly irrelevant crap and cute youtube videos by gushing hosts, or else its that Snodden fellow enthusiastically telling me yet again how bloody awful the weather's going to be.

    Maybe H&N should be cut back to a half-hour program again, especially considering the dearth of local news stories to cover, as well as the fact that most of the news they broadcast is stale by suppertime due to the 24 hour news cycle and the instant availability of all types of news, both fake and real, on the internet.

    Thoughts anyone?

    • Your thoughts are mine. I called it the Giggle Show (After the Australian silly group the Wiggles) since it appears all they can do is giggle about some cat and dog story. It appears that everyone in existence now needs a all suppertime newscasts with at least 5 separate explanations of the weather, a court report already done by the very courts themselves, a cat and dog session, a feel good story about some local charity or a pumped up, NL nationalistic, one sided story about a local entrepreneur who couldn't find work in the oil industry or government but is making it big as another businesses selling chocolates or another local arts and music scene report. Never is there a word about the disastrous economy in NL, the mass out migration or the failed industries that are abound here. I would like to know just how much tax money is being spent in Nl on the CBC and maybe we could have a debate as to weather or not it would be better spent on Health Care or something else OR not being spent at all.

  15. I listened with interest on the discussion about some of the important and technical aspect of our our energy systems, and where and why we are, where we are. And of course we need to know where we are, and how we got here to make the best decisions on where to go now and get out of our predicament of 15$ billion boondoggle, higher tax rates and rate payer rates, and our commitments to ns. Let's forget for the purposes of where to go, assuming muskrat has failed and wiped out by floods or mothballed. I think any commitments to ns are off the table, since Harper helped in predicating this boondoggle on us by calling it an Atlantic region initiative, and seems Trudeau is following the same line, in encouraging it with the loan guarantee. Because of that, when muskrat is out if the picture, ns and emera should be to. SO WHERE TO GO THEN? Think Winston's 50 grand is better guided by someone coming up with a replacement for muskrat, in other words, start back where we were when muskrat was been complamented, 2003-5 or when ever. Seems the island inter- connected grid has to be solved with the 1200 MW of reliable and cheep paid for power we currently have and how to come up with another 500 MW that we need, or our learned engineers have determined. Seems to me, it has to be a combo of small hydro, the appropriate amount of wind, and reduced demand, conservation through mini-split heat pumps. SO LET OUR ENGINEERS and others do a detailed plan to meet our energy needs. Already 80 MW site previously identified as viaiable, maybe we need another 100 MW to be identified and planned, and maybe 150-200 MW of wind. Best location planned in relation to where it is needed, and maybe a reduncy amount from a few gas turbines, with holyrood mostly shut down. Think that's where the conversation needs to go, as an alternative to muskrat and its failure. But not just talk, but a detailed plan to point givernments in the right direction, and hydro, or nalcor if you want to be responsible for our energy requirements only, and another entity to look after oil, minerals, and bull arm etc. Should be an interesting project for UG, friends, contributors in the New Year. Time for some positive action. Amen.

  16. The best way out of this is to contract 500 mwhs of power from Hydro Quebec for 25 years,this combined with 300 mwhs of recall would be enough to sell to Emera and satisfy our needs. Doing this would enable us to shut down Holyrood and apply a tax that could be used to pay loan interest rates, and we could claim the tax as a carbon tax.
    Gerry Goodman

  17. Which way would the power come from Quebec hydro…across the belle isle strait, or the Cabot strait,…and at what rate….and at what rate do we sell to emera,.. And will there be any transmission. Loss and transmission cost….your solution may be worth considering. Think all possibilities have to be considered… And not just adobt one to the exclusion of all others and try and sell to the people as the least cost option…as they did with muskrat…

    • Reliability factors heavily favour the Atlantic Grid route. Provided that NB Power gets off its ass, and develops its portion as a "Smart Grid". Emera, already owns the former public transmission lines in NS, and will do what is necessary to capitalize on cheap Hydro Quebec power.

  18. Yes the North Spur could fail but then it may not? Most of us hope it does not except for the the narley naysayers? It is important to be right regardless of the consequences, right? Seems to me that there is no mortal that has the answer whether on this side of the Atlantic or the other.

    • I hope no Gnarley naysayer hopes the spur will fail. If it fails it would mean loss of life and loss of an expensive asset.
      For my bet, if it stands I would gain 12500 dollars, if it fails I would pay out 50,000 dollars. So a failure would cost me 37500. I don't generally lose bets, and why would I be anxious to lose this, just to say I was right? Not so.
      One side, Nalcor, says the spur has a safety factor of about 1.5, while the other says only about 0.5
      The average of these is 1.0, which is no safety factor at all.
      I am used to working with copper pipe heating systems. For a house with 50psi, a pipe rated for 150psi has a 3:1 safety factor that is a guaranteed working pressure. The burst pressure of that pipe is about 1000 psi, if a quick surge of pressure was applied.
      Recently on a city building, the operating pressure was to be 80 psi. A 150 psi rating did not make a 2:1 safety factor. The engineer thought it prudent to use the next heavier gauge of copper, and I agree.This met USA standard, and not the cheap China product. The rating was for 400psi working pressure , so 5:1 safety factor and it had a burst pressure of 2200psi.
      So, anyone contented with what seem likely a safefy factor of no more than 1, for a natural dam…….go live downstream.
      Further, even a natural loss of the spur whether in a hundred or 500 years, means a loss of the natural bottleneck in the river there, that affords downstream a modest spring elevation rise. Without the spur the spring runoff would make matters much worse in Goose Bay and Mud Lake.
      So this is one naysayer who wants the spur to stay.
      Winston Adams

  19. Due to the non-stop construction of the Nalcor Hydro Dam and without particularly liking what I have to say I must nevertheless do my best – as a matter of the greatest urgency – to shut down the boondoggle Nalcor Hydro dam Muskrat Falls project [Gull Island, Grand River Mishtashipu] Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada:

    The Labrador Land Protectors, Partners and Supporters need to realize that shutting down the Nalcor hydro dam juggernaut via the “Public Inquiry,” “expert advice” “technical data” route is now most likely a complete waste of time because the Inquiry’s terms of reference are deliberately too narrow excluding health, safety, environmental criteria and because one Labrador Land Protector “expert” justifying North Spur instability, ‘embedded contractors’ rates of pay, risk of flooding or whatever can easily be countered by another Government “expert” at every stage of proceedings.

    The Labrador Land Protectors, Partners and Supporters now need to fight on battleground of their own choosing and not allow provincial and federal governments to shamefully continue developing their own.

    The governments are large bureaucracies which should now be frightened into changing course by the Labrador Land Protectors, Partners and Supporters.

    More rapid, direct action is now badly needed e.g. sadly, the more people who are sent to jail the better it is for our cause because government will not be able to deal with the huge public outcry and bad publicity.

    Making sure that enough members in both NL and Canadian Parliaments are actively fighting ‘tooth and nail’ for our cause.

    Vote for new candidates at next elections for both parliaments who will sincerely and actively support our cause by their deeds and words.

    Anything other than Direct Action and Parliamentary Legislation Pathways is going to be a complete waste of time because of the $billions including federal loan guarantees supporting the project.

    The Governments of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador will simply keep on trying to steamroller all opposition since they have the mentality of a balance sheet. They will be quite prepared to go right through with the boondoggle, ruin people’s lives, cause whole community displacements then turn round and unashamedly claim they were right it in the end because the financial returns generated by their hydro power scheme made it so worthwhile!

    Almost paradoxically, new Parliamentary Legislation by both Governments is quickly needed to stop the juggernaut dead in its tracks. Beatrice Hunter can have the same spiritual influence for Canada in the fight to #ShutMuskratDown as Mahatma Gandhi had for Indian political life. [Beatrice Hunter Video 24.12.17] C’mon Join The International Campaign against Nalcor Crown Corporation’s Boondoggle Hydro project, Muskrat Falls, Grand River Mishtashipu [lower Churchill] NL Canada [CA]

    • I have advocated a modified approach to Bloggers here. Accepting that it is already too late to redirect the "Finish Strong" crowd; Be part of the "Best Use" collaboration. A concerted effort to determine the merits, or not, of running the Muskrat asset, with inherent risk failure characteristics, (Technical and Economic), is long overdue. Mothballing, may be the "Best Use", as some have already proposed on UG.