Guest Post by Ron Penney

full development of the Lower Churchill consists of two projects: Gull Island
and the much smaller Muskrat Falls project. Gull Island is projected to be a
2250 megawatt project as compared to the Muskrat Fall’s 824 megawatts. Gull
Island was always felt to be the far more economic project.
2002 a draft Framework Agreement was negotiated with Hydro Quebec to develop
Gull Island. A link to that agreement is found here.
the time, the then Chair of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dean MacDonald, and
another Board member, Mark Dobbin, broke with the rest of the Board, and
opposed the agreement. The then Leader of the Opposition, Danny Williams, became
aware of the agreement and mounted a vigorous and ultimately successful
campaign to scuttle the agreement.
represented the most recent attempt to develop Gull Island and led directly to
the Muskrat Falls debacle.

Canadian Press Photo

Mr. Williams became Premier any suggestion of dealing with Quebec was anathema
and our energy policy became one based on revenge for the inequities of the
Upper Churchill project and the obstacles placed in our way by Quebec to
restrict access to export markets. This led to the renewal of what former
Premier Joey Smallwood called the “Anglo Saxon Route”, which is the real
motivation behind the Muskrat Falls. Plus, of course, former Premier Williams
need for a legacy project to allow him to retire from active politics with the
acclaim of an adoring populace.

know how that is turned out. Revenge doesn’t make for good public policy
particularly when it backfires so spectacularly. Would Mr. Williams still put
his own money into Muskrat Falls, as he famously said he would if he could,
when he announced the project?
what did the 2002 Framework Agreement contain and how does it look now, some 16
years later, as compared to the Muskrat Falls project, which may spell the end,
yet again, of our right to govern ourselves.
project would have been constructed by us through a company called the Gull
Island Energy Corporation.
would have been financed by Hydro Quebec.
project was primarily an export project with recall rights.
price was $35.50 per megawatt hour, or 3.55 cents per kilowatt hour, indexed to
changes to what Hydro Quebec was getting in the market.
would have had the right to recall up to 500 megawatts of power during the life
of the power purchase agreement, which compares favorably to what we we are
projected to use from the 40% of Muskrat Falls Power, 330 megawatts. Assuming
an in service date of Gull Island of 2010, we would have had access to 300
megawatts of power in 2021, at a third of the cost of Muskrat Falls power and
could have sized the transmission line accordingly.
Ron Penney

of the key positive aspects of the agreement would have been the right of Hydro
Quebec to appoint an Independent Engineer, similar to what the Government of
Canada has done. The difference being that Hydro Quebec actually has a record
of building Hydro projects on time and on budget.

was also a requirement to hire an experienced Engineering, Procurement, and
Contracting Company to manage the project. We, of course, relied on our “world
class experts” to run the project. How has that worked out so far?
there would have been a water management agreement binding on Hydro Quebec,
something which we don’t have now.
project would have also been built at a time when we had competent management
at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and when there were no major construction
projects competing with it. It would have been far more likely to have been
built on time and on budget.
pretty good now, wouldn’t you say?


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's a shame that Danny's number 2 man at Cable Atlantic, Dean MacDonald, and Craig Dobbin's son, Mark, sold out to Williams. There were concerns when Grimes kept them on the board but He ignored those concerns.

    Later, Mark Dobbin publicly stated his support for the Muskrat Falls project, saying he had a look at the economics and the project made sense. Does he think so today?

    Dean MacDonald's support of Muskrat was the main reason he had to pack in his bid for the Liberal party leadership, being out of step with the views of the majority of party members.

    Like so many others, they drank the purple kool-aid poured by Williams and Nalcor.

  2. Isn't Ron officially a Bottom Feeder?

    This is a piece of history I was unaware of. Thanks for educating us. "Danny Williams, became aware of the agreement and mounted a vigorous and ultimately successful campaign to scuttle the agreement" – so much of this debacle seems to point back to a single individual.

    Bottom Feeder 1

  3. I have to say, neither of these projects are "good" for us living downstream. Methyl mercury, fears of drowning, invasion of transient workers into our social structures, and loss of culture. No Duty to Consult or Free, prior and informed consent from all Indigenous people impacted. No have to say…nothing good about any of it. Lives are supposed to still mean something. Can't all be about the money all the time…

    • Unknown,

      About methyl mercury, you have to know that the lab tests performed about the subject that were so alarming have been proved wrong. The tests were done with stalled water instead of running water. The fact that water runs does not give it enough time to absorb a significant amount of methyl mercury. Only if water is stalled then it can absorb higher level of methyl mercury.

      In Qc, we have many reservoirs and there are people leaving down stream of them. Methyl mercury is not and never was a threat to them.

      I have always be 100% against the MF project, but methyl mercury has never been an argument for my position.

    • You too have drunk the Kool Aid Herc!

      I had PQ scientists whisper to me during a break at the JRP that doing research on mercury was forbidden in Quebec. Voila methyl mercury magically vanishes. No evidence of harm is not evidence but magic!

    • Hi Bruno,

      Here are few references for you and none of them are from DW, Nalcor or MFP.


      In this second report, they explain how much of the methyl mercury is produced by the sediments that alternate continously between flooded / air exposed conditions. So considering MF reservoir is meant to be kept at a steady level, it will release even less methyl mercury than some other reservoirs.

      So methyl mercury is a reality. In fact, there is methyl mercury even in 100% natural sites.

      Indeed, a dam / reservoir can have an impact of that level, but this impact is limited in time and lower than what many lab experiments showed.

      Should you have scientific documents that say more than that methyl mercury exists, I will be pleased to review them. So far unfortunately, all the material I found that was worrying about methyl mercury presented it as a completely by-product of reservoir and something that does not exist before the reservoir. The other half talks about an increase, but does not size this increase. Last part is about studies of sites contaminated by chemicals that contained mercury so again, not applicable here.

      Nice to talk with you,

    • Hi again Bruno,

      Did you read what I wrote ? I wrote that "indeed, a dam / reservoir can have an impact on that level (of methyl mercury)". So where is the denial about the existence of an impact on methyl mercury ?

      What I said is that may study are known to be wrong because they did their experiment with stalled water. In that condition, the level increases much more. When doing the experiment with running water, like it will be at MF, the level does increases, but not as much.

  4. And the funny thing, Heracles, is that I am sure plenty of people leaving comments here will be indignant if you even suggest that there is such a thing as anti-Quebec prejudice in Newfoundland & Labrador. Even after reading this. Indeed, the very fact that Bruno seems to believe that unofficial whispers at a conference are somehow evidence for…well, something is surprising, but I guess if what is said is anti-Quebec all critical thinking is automatically turned off.

    Oh, and Bruno? I'm an academic myself. I once told an American scholar I met at a conference the story of my life growing up in Quebec…it involved (inter alia) a giant communal Igloo, having to avoid Polar Bears while going to school on a sled, and making sure the sled dogs had had enough raw meat that night, as otherwise everyone in the Giant Igloo would have been eaten. As far as I can tell the "scholar" bought it hook, line and sinker (admittedly, she was a Californian who appeared to have sampled certain dubiously legal substances over a very long period of time).

    In other words, Bruno, you might -might!- consider the possibility that your leg was being pulled.

    • EX, and Eric. I expect better from engineers on this blog, Etienne, well…..
      Now the MF Inquiry opened with a tale about bias, remember?
      So what is your bias on this subject?
      HQ itself says the Lagrande comples fish mercury levels is 2 -8 fold increase. Generally levels their hydro reservoirs in whitefish normalize in 10-20 years but other fish 20-35 years. Until you show me otherwise good data, I side with Bruno on this
      An experimental flooding in Canada in 1998 showed 39 fold increase in methyl mercury , and 3 fold increase in CO2 and 6 fold for methane gas, these 2 are green house gases.
      Now we know Heracles is very concerned about loss of forests as to climate change, not fossil fuel use, but that flooding also reduced the area as a carbon sink. Google "methyl mercury in reservoirs"

    • Etienne,

      My senses are pretty reliable and I am seldom conned. So you disbelieve that PQ with a huge hydro industry has any reason to suppress mercury science?

      You are more naive than your California Dreamer if you think that politics does not pervert your "pure science". Please wake up.

    • Bruno-

      Where did I deny that politics can pervert research? Where did I use the expression "pure science"? Please refrain from projecting upon me your DW-like fantasies about the moral failings of whoever dares to disagree with you.

      My point (My apologies, I should have made this more explicit) was that whereas Heracles has linked to actual research (which may or may not be valid), all you have offered is the claim that it was whispered to you that "doing research on mercury was forbidden in Quebec".

      And you see, what you have offered is no counterargument. *Even if* it were true that research on Methyl Mercury is forbidden in Quebec, it would most certainly not follow therefrom that everything that is feared about Methyl Mercury formation as a result of dam construction must be true.

      Of course, it is possible that simple anti-Quebec bias explains this error on your part: if you assume Quebec is Bad by definition, then of course you will always assume the worst about Quebec.

      You will thus forgive me if I disbelieve you when you write that "My senses are pretty reliable and I am seldom conned": based on your comment I think you could be conned repeatedly if you had to evaluate various "arguments" (relying heavily upon non sequiturs) appealing to whatever prejudice you might have.

      In any case the premise you are operating from is false: you might want to sit before reading what follows, but Quebec is not some kind of totalitarian State run by Hydro-Quebec. Even if the Crown Corporation somehow had sought to ban all research relating to Methyl Mercury, they could do nothing about (for instance) scholars/researchers with funding from some federal agency or water testing by various municipal governments.

      Furthermore, Hydro-Quebec has been scrutinized and criticized quite heavily (indeed sometimes unjustly) within Quebec during the past few decades: if such a ban had ever really existed it is odd indeed that it has never come to light. I'm afraid I find it easier to believe your leg was pulled than to believe that all of the investigative journalists in Quebec have mysteriously failed to uncover a story which would have given any of their individual careers a tremendous boost.

    • Your failings stem from naivete or are a fraudulent attempt to mislead. I am not frm NL and have no bias which your long winded missive repeats.

      The fact is that mercury in vegetation remains in the inorganic form and only methylates when flooded. Why are you misleading us?

    • "I am not from NL". Err…okay…and just where did I claim that you are?

      "and have no bias": since you know this you can simply ignore my arguments above seeking to show you are biased. How convenient for you. Dunning-Kruger. Look it up. Seriously.

      "Why are you misleading us?": Err, Bruno, I sort of get now that reading comprehension is really, really not your forte, but I have expressed no opinion here (or anywhere, actually) on the (un)reality of the dangers of Methyl mercury as a result of dam flooding. What I have expressed an opinion on relates to the matter of standards of proof. As in, you have proved nothing: I have explained above why I disbelieve the rumors you heard. To which you respond by ignoring my arguments and calling me naive and dishonest.

      I think an apology is in order, mister.

    • Hi Winston,

      In the link I posted above from HQ and about methyl mercury, we see that indeed the level can be twiced of what the "natural" level is. That is what happen when you go from 0.1 to 0.2. You know very well that numbers can say anything. So Yes, they can sound terrible here. But they can also be negligeable, an increase of 0.1 can have no measurable effect on health and environment.

      What I would consider as a much more credible study would be one that would measure this 0.2 level as HQ did and measure how it propagate and what is the impact of such level. Is 0.2 of any concern for health ?

      None of the studies I found were complete : the original level, the new levels, the measurement of the impact (geographic, health, time, …) and of course, in realistic conditions.

      If you have any study that is complete and appropriate, by all mean share it. Until then, the only claims I saw against methyl mercury were, at best, mentionning the presence of the molecule and an increase of it downstream of a dam / reservoir. That is not enough to conclude anything. MF has always be a clear no-go for me, methyl mercury or not. In no way methyl mercury can turn to being a good thing, one that would be good enough to justify MF. As such, methyl mercury is out of my scope because my conclusion is a clear No-Go, with it or without it.

    • This is boring.

      You have assumed, without evidence that I am biased against PQ. You mislead based on your bigoted assumptions and deny the real politique of mercury contamination.

      Please stop trolling me.

    • Heracles , You use the low figure indicated by HQ of 2 fold increase, as HQ says 2-8 times, and relatively long term contamination in fish, and whether these amount to high risk for humans, maybe depend on the amount of fish , or for lake Melville , seals consumed. So if not a problem for humans , i think generally yes, and assume there is expert evidence , but outside my area of research.
      But I think HQ is up front with their data and not to be dismissed as not important. So on the basis or precaution, I am with Bruno, unless proof otherwise. How dangerous? I can't say.
      Of course Bruno , like all of us , have biases. Bruno with Elon Musk for example. He recently spiked his stock by saying he had ability to take it private. The SEC has fined 40 million for that false claim and he no longer the CEO. A great innovator , but Bruno was conned , I think, in evaluating his morality.
      I agree with Ex that even some scientific papers are misleading and biased, so one has to watch for that. I assume HQ does not mislead?

    • Bruno; hold your hordes!

      The only point you need to grasp here is the following (from Etienne):

      "…whereas Heracles has linked to actual research (which may or may not be valid), all you have offered is the claim that it was whispered to you that "doing research on mercury was forbidden in Quebec"."


      Nobody is denying mercury contamination here, or possibilities of political pressure to deny it, or whatever else.

    • Ex, yes in all fields, especially medical. I read them , then about the authors , who funds the research etc, often big pharmo is a factor,sometimes not. If truly independent they is often more reliable, but still some bias possible.
      So I wonder about all the silver with mercury filling I have now those past 50 years, from my days in the military. 25 years ago my dentist said get them all replaced. I didn't. Now my new dentist says none of those are a problem , no proof they are a risk. I still wonder. But i do not use that for new fillings.

  5. I would say that before he entered politics, Williams had his own version of how the universe was to unfold. It comes from someone who has had a multi million dollar monopoly handed to him by the Federal government in the form of a cable tv licence.

  6. Regarding Ron's post on Gull Island, the indexing of the selling price creates downside risk but the upside opportunity was there to balance it. I mention the downside because HQ rate is likely less now than it was then. The project might be earning losses right now plus status quo costs at Holyrood but nothing on the scale of the Muskrat losses soon to hit us. Unless export profits increase in the future, Gull might have been destined to be a financial failure. A regular boondoggle vs the ultra-boondoggle of MF. Limited to these two options, Gull is preferred but surely there were other choices. Namely, that neither LCP option passed economic tests and that attention needed to ge focused on CDM to decrease the island winter peaking problem. The latter would be politically negative whereas the former are politically positive. Politics won out.

    • The professor's presentation was fantastic and disturbing. I see examples regularly where consultants receive government contracts and produce reports with conclusions matching what government wants to hear. They are then rewarded with more contracts.

      Also disturbing is that Dr. Bruneau was not made aware of the fact that they had critiqued is work. It was more like an ambush. No wonder he referred to the report as bogus.

      Bottom Feeder 1

    • Anon, you beat me to it: when asked if he had final comments, he said roughly that "even now people are being gamed , if they speak negatively about MFs , they are somehow seen to be unpartriotic", so Leblanc not wanting to hear THIS TRUTH, cut him off to take a break in the proceedings! Fair ? Independent? Serving Justice?
      Winston Adams

    • Perhaps , like professor Ford galvanized people in the USA to question the appointment of unfit judges to the Supreme Court there, that the lone voice of someone as accomplished an engineer as Dr Bruneau will help other engineers speak up , come out from under the cone of silence , and support his courage and personal risks in telling the truth of how this scandalous project got sanctioned.

    • WA and Anony:

      I would say that the argument that dissenters were 'gamed' is one for closing statements – the very fact that Prof B was there and DWs comments of bottom feeders demonstrates it.

      The key to making that argument is made by having the press quotes of DW, DD, TM, EM, KD et all entered – it is not a fact in questions, it just doesn't need to be reiterated constantly.

      Interesting fact, Prof Bsr was a founder of Fortis, SM mentored under him for a time.


    • A crude summary here: Gas is produced as well as oil at Hibernia. Offshore they process this gas, use it for generating electricity in quantities greater than Holyrood, and re-inject the gas into the earth. We could have made a deal to get some of this gas via a pipeline to Holyrood and it would have been far cheaper than building Muskrat Falls. Icebergs are a moot point – we have under sea cables for power between the island, Labrador and Nova Scotia and we came up with engineering solutions to mitigate the risk.

      Despite all this, a consultant was hired who trashed his findings. He was not given a chance for a rebuttal. Energy companies were not asked for opinions.

    • One of the lawyers seemed to imply that Dr. Bruneau was not an expert or qualified on these matters (i.e. these are just personal opinions), implying that the report writers were qualified. Too bad I don't have a transcript or replay available. Anyone that knows Dr. Bruneau will find this offensive. I am glad he will be coming back for cross examination. He will be formidable because his opinions are also simple truths.

      One of the motivations for his natural gas option was that before sanction, we were being told that there were no alternatives and therefore full speed ahead with Muskrat Falls. Dr. Bruneau then presented the province with an alternative to ponder. That upset certain people and organizations.

    • The lawyer that tried to imply that was TW – DWs brother, it went nowhere. He was more or less trying to stiffle or quash disent – LeBlanc didnt allow it, but was fair in goverence.

      LeBlanc did a very good job controlling the Inquiry this AM-in my opinion.


    • PENG2, I jotted down this: "Tom William, concerned during the break his(Bruneau's) opinion vs Ziff, Navigant etec, who are not on the witness list. Tom says we were just handed a 17 page document 5 minutes before.

      Leblanc offers Williams time to cross examine Bruneau on this further (later), but says this is not a trial,as to procedure, and Bruneau's opinions have been into the public since 2012. Leblanc terminates the examination of Bruneau and gives everyone an extended long weekend".
      So PENG2 how can you say Tom's request went nowhere? You say Williams was trying to squash dissent and that Leblanc did't allow it, and was fair in governance. I'm ok with Leblanc's decision, except that maybe other parties were then ready to examine Bruneau, that was not considered, and he is allowing Williams to cross examine Bruneau later, so he gets lots of time to find fault, and perhaps earn more dollars in pay. But maybe ok, as Bruneau no slough to hide from cross examination.
      Bring it on , hey b'ys. Let see the battle of the world class experts, Danny's, and Nalcor's paid consultants, who puts caveats that they don't guarantee their opinions and statements vs Burneau, who as Bruno would say : He speaks truth to power.

    • WA:

      That's just it – nobody was ready to cross Prof B. TW made an argument that Prof B was another citizen, but Leblanc qualified that the opinions were previously in the media and were subject to part of the sanctioning decision, just that his review of the Ziff report were new.

      LeBlanc was fair – everyone gets time to review and cross Prof B later, not just TW. Anyone who wanted to cross Prof B today could have, but all took the opportunity to review his info first – smart on all parts.


    • I sense that the Judge realizes that the Inquiry has proceeded to the dangerous pre-trial stage for fraud and defamatory legal action. What does one do, and who directs the Judge? The body of evidence now unfolding will be difficult if not impossible to refute by the respective legal counsel for former Gov. officials and their deputies. I hope Canadians are paying attention to what is happening here.

    • Robert:

      If we read Gomery and the public inquires act – we are stepping into dangerous territory here. there will be no charges recommended – LeBlanc needs to be careful that he doesn't open up info that could sustain a later charge, its catch-22 here now.

      You are right – I would hope that no one is directing the judge, but the ToR is clear in that there are few limitations except as to how the interpretation is. There is a very good possibility that there will be a hornets nest opened up soon…


    • PENG2,I still see it as Leblanc hot allowing Tom Williams to stifle dissent at this moment, but gives him lots of time in the future, which is ok, and allows Leblanc more time to assess how he will stick handle this inevitable event of trying to protect reputations (impossible to do if the inquiry is transparent to our expectation), yet exposing the rot of the sanction decision.
      Robert Holmes is probably right, who directs the judge with these problems?

  7. Dwight Ball says that neither ratepayers nor taxpayers will pay the bill for the Muskrat Falls Project. If by this he means that rates will not increase nor will taxes and we all know that the Federal Government is playing hands off, then the monies required has to come from general revenue. Proof positive that the Liberals "Way Forward" is "Follow the yellow brick road. Follow the yellow brick road. Follow, Follow, Follow, Follow….."

    Then we have our own "rogue" scholar who suggests that the costs can be paid by the revenue from offshore oil as if this was "manna from heaven" instead of already part of the general revenue. If the offshore oil revenue is used then it has to be accounted for by increased borrowing dollar for dollar or by cuts to public services.

    Having elected these fairy tale characters as our leaders shows that we deserve what we get.

    • The whole idea of paying for MF with offshore revenue (oil royalties) is just silly. Revenue is revenue. From the pot of revenue consisting of corporate tax, income tax, sales tax, fees and royalties we have to pay for all our services services, maintain infrastructure, the civil service and interest on debt. Even now we don't have enough money to go around and go further into debt every year. I think the only option is a negotiated bailout with the federal government. I just hope the province isn't pillaged in the process.

    • "Having elected these fairy tale characters as our leaders shows that we deserve what we get."

      Is voting for the lesser of the evils just voting for evil?

      When none of the above are acceptable on a ballot, do you just not vote, spoil the ballet or write in none of the above?

      The political system is broken.

    • Politicians have become a mirror of popular opinion in an effort to win elections. At election time, our politicians should present a vision and plan to the electorate so we can make informed decisions as voters in selecting our politicians. Politicians should lead the electorate rather than follow it and present visionary plans to improve our society and economy. The electorate still retains the power to change elected representatives regularly if performance is bad. Maybe wishful thinking but would be nice to see.

  8. Who directs the judge, asks Robert Holmes.
    Remember there are two Beothic Indians looking down at him constantly. Within 24 hrs of my warning of the indignity of that Nfld Coat of Arms, what happens? Judge Leblanc apologises to an Innu leader! Never happened before in out 500 year history has this happened.
    Chief Jean-Charles Pietacho, was expected to testify in a language that was not his native Innu one. "My language, my life and my culture are not being respected" said the French translator. "I would like to speak in my language, French is not my language.What I'm going to say here will not come from my heart". And so Leblanc offered an apology, likely a first by a Nfld judge to a First nation person. An "error" was made said Leblanc in not having a Innu translator, and he will have a translator when he appears later.
    So let the Coat of Arms now remain in place. Indeed, better now to leave it in place, as we hear the litany of injustices toward First Nation people, and reflect on the Beothic.
    Let us ponder that 500 year history, and ask, what has changed?
    Is the boondoggle and Muskrat Falls fiasco the curse of the Beothic on all Nflders?
    Who directs the judge? Maybe the restless spirit of those original Nflders, misrepresented as the noble savage red man. His false image looks down on Leblanc and all those trained, we are told, in providing justice. Let there be a start for justice for all.
    Let Leblanc be directed by his conscience. Let him show the dignity and courage shown us by Jean_Charles Pietacho, a Quebec Innu.

  9. Bottom feeders…. I did take the time to look up bottom feeders. WOw!!!! Really surprised to find all the species that are bottom feeders. Snales, sea cumbersome, shrimp, crab, yes even halibut, and king cod. Or we have normally called them ground fish, as opposed to those that are midwater fish, like redfish, and herring, as well as sharkes. So most fish are bottom fish, that sift everything through their gills to keep the bottom clean. Other fish, like king cod also feed on bottom fish. So the so called food chain. So eventually we are all bottom feeders or depend on bottom feeders for our survival. Where are you in the chain of bottom feeders??? At the bottom or the top. If you are middle class, then maybe you are like the halibut, or the cod. If you are in the rich class, maybe you are the seal, too smelly to eat, or the great white shark, that enjoys the odd arm or leg of a human. So guess methyl mercury is contained there somewhere in the fresh water fish, at least. And we are what we eat, so guess we are all bottom feeders, and it's like the kettle calling the pot, smuth, says Joe blow.

  10. VOCM poll questions;
    Oct 1: Do you see any positives in the Muskrat Falls project?
    Yes: 31%
    No: 63 %
    Don't know : 6%
    Oct 5th, Are you concerned about the financial troubles facing Astaldi and GE and what it means for Muskrat falls and this province?
    Yes: 76%
    No : 20%
    Don't know : 4 %

    Seems to reflect the positive of construction jobs had some benefit, but now reality kicking in : how do we pay off this 12.7 billion, and also about getting this up and running and reliability issues.

    Seems so few had those concerns during pre- sanction, so were most brain washed and now the Inquiry is starting to expose the rot?
    Winston Adams

  11. The Telegram reports that Danny Williams could not put a figure on the value of MFs project.
    I would have run with a headline : MFs not worth 100 Billion says Danny Williams. That was his testimony and says a lot. Heracles suggests CFs is worth about 40 Billion, and that reliable power and 10 times more power than MFs. So if MFs was reliable it is worth about 4 billion? Danny leaves a lot of wiggle room to try and con the public to continue his claim, at this Inquiry, that this is a good project.

    • Hi Anon 11:42.

      A small correction : UC has been evaluated to 20 billions; not 40. That figure has been presented in many occasion during the different court cases.

      CFLCo is owned 65.8% Newfoundland and 34.2% HQ. As such, UC represents an asset of about 13 Billions in value for Newfoundland.

      As for an estimate value of MF, you can not do that kind of extrapolation. The reason is because of operational costs. MF will cost more to operate than UC, so much that at the end, it is not expected for MF to paybak for its own operational cost.

      The value of a plant is directly linked with the value it procudes. By producing power at about 3 mills and in the amount og 5400MW, UC does produce actual value. By producing power at up to 60 cents according to some estimates, MF does not produce any value. Because it does not produce any value, it has not any value by itself and so worht a gigantic ZERO dollars.

    • Thank you Heracles. So 0 billion not close to 100 billion. I guess if MFs was intergrated with Gull and CFs, some value could be extracted.
      So DW is full of S–T as to his his estimate of the value, is that fair comment?

    • 20 billion for CFs is about right. Nfld island assets is valued about 3 billion, including distribution. Island Hydro say about 1100Mw, and CFs 5 times more. this would put CFs at about 15 billion. But CFs probably less operational costs per MW, so 20 Billion seems right.

    • Hi Anon 12:35,

      To add Gull Island to it would not really increase the value. One of the reason MF is so low value is that the energy market is saturated as of now. HQ has gigantic surplus and they are not expected to go away before long.

      Adding GI to the equation would just mean more power on an even more saturated market. Basic laws of economics say that when offer is too high, prices go down.

      GI and MF would have been great should they have been built when it was time to do so, in 1970, 1980s or even 1990s. HQ offered many times to do it but Newfoundland refused every time. But as of now, with that much suplus power and a demand that goes down, it is really not the moment to build more power plant.

  12. Telegram reporter David Maher offers up a well-written, informative article detailing the dire possibility of yet another DarkNL, then completely trashes it at the end by making reference to the hokey superstitious folklore of the The Farmer's Almanac as some kind of authoritative predictor of complex non-linear systems such as long-range weather patterns.

    Bloody-well ridiculous… no wonder this province is such a backwards shitheap…


  13. Liberty warned of days like this: So did I and PENG2 warn of power reliability issues as to MFs.
    Now, as the Telegram reports Nfld hydro is preparing for a 30% forced outage rate instead of 7.5 %. I guess that means if we are at 1700 MW this winter we could lose 510 MW.
    These are some desperate measures they plan on: running Hoyrood and diesels and the gas turbine at loads higher than rated. When conditions are cold, heat transfers more rapidly. This is not that risky for overhead transmission lines, but for generating units? Holy Moly , Bat man. Is this prudent? Holyrood's old units are in bad shape and preferred to run at part loads, not overloads. And the new gas turbine , rated at 100 MW, can do 123 MW peak rated, but now considering to run it at 135MW. that is desperation.
    What can happen is that these units get damaged from the overload and then produces nothing, taking a year maybe t get fixed. So a 500 MW loss of power may become 700 or 800 MW loss, for extended periods during winter, mostly impacting the Avalon. Those spending the winter in Florida won't worry much.
    Winston Adams

    • When I built my house in 1975 , I installed 12 gauge wire for both the baseboard heaters and for the 115 outlet circuits. I wanted to avoid blowing fuses from intermittent overloads. That worked like a charm.
      Wiring is to have connected loads of only 80 % of the rated wire capacity. Why not use loads that permit 100% capacity of the wire? At 100% you operate on the edge. Consider if a screw terminal is a bit loose, a Marr connector a bit loose, even a fuse bit loose, any of these can cause an increase in heat generated, sometimes arcing, then smoke and maybe a fire. At 20% reduced load, even loose connectors reduces the risk of overheating. So , a strategy of intentional overloading generators! Third would approach!
      Least I fearmonger as to my concern, I ask others to comment on this. Acceptable to overload, least hospitals and essential services are at risk?

  14. Least cost power?

    Option 1: Steve Bruneau's gas option at about 2 billion cost. This would result in rates going from 10 to 14 cents say, and much reduced GHG emissions compared to Holyrood oil burning, but still considerable GHG. Yet this about 1/6 the present cost of MFs and MFs is not likely reliable.

    Option,my Sept 28 estimate of more island hydro, plus wind, plus CDM plus gas turbine backup (not base load). This cost 1.7 billion. Effective cost remains at about 10 cents due to less energy used. GHG almost entirely eliminated. Cost to consumers about 40% less than the gas option.

    Sound too good to be reasonable? Comments welcomed.
    Winston Adams

    • WA:

      Typical phi values:
      steel: 0.85
      concrete: 065
      soil: 0.3 – 0.45

      So, to answer your question above, overloading is never good – I did similar and oversize most all elements in any of my construction to add to my safety factor knowing that there will always be a contractor cheating.

      For CDM, I am not sure that our population would 100% endorse it – Nlders are some of the most wasteful anywhere. If we built in enough surplus capacity, then I could see avoiding a link – Prof Bs work is impeccable, I will enjoy seeing his cross, he wont be pushed around.


    • Agree PENG2, Nflders are generally wasteful: on Atlantic Loto we spend over 700 dollars per person each year, so approx 2500 per family, twice what they spend in Nova Scotia. 406 million by Nflders last year! Richer than we think? So DW attitude of roll the dice.
      Yet CDM would not need 100 % endorcement, but policy as in NS. It would need to ramp up. Also few now endorse CDM because 1. few understand the personal benefit(present measures by Take Charge give little meaningful benefit) and fewer still the benefit to grid and reliability. Yet you do not disagree my estimate is ballpark ok? Yet not considered in 2012.
      For Bruneau, I agree fully. How does one become an expert if he is not a certified one? I guess you have to appear regular at court proceedings + qualified. I guess Einstein would not be a certified court expert in his day, so all of Bruneau's qualifications and experience may not mean much for Leblanc? You are court certified or not?

    • Also, does any court expert appear pro bono? Bruneau's work is largely due to civil duty, at his own expense, as is Dave Vardy. Is Dave Vardy an expert in Leblanc's court? What of Wade Locke and Feehan? I think you have more insight to these matters than I or many on this blog, so advise your opinion. Guess Tom Williams has already noted the world class experts he mentioned, in support of brother Dan and Dunderdale's counsel may chip on that.

    • WA:

      I didn't mean to imply that we need 100% to buy into CDM 100%; rather that we do need nearly 100% to buy into the concept and practice CDM where possible (not much of a distinction there I know). I am not sure if a weak buy-in does much good over time; though I wont argue with your numbers, most probably right in the gains.

      As for experts, its a hard questions to answer. At the Inquiry, I am not sure Prof B was called as an expert – he was called to defend a report he authored that Nalcor/Gov took the time to critique, it is most curious and obvious that the government put significant weight into his report. To me Prof B is an expert, no question.

      As to Vardy, Locke, Feehan (or others who have demonstrated an opinion here) – Id be inclined to say no, part of the test of an expert is that they have shown no previous bias – though whether publishing a qualified opinion is showing a bias, I don't know.


    • Rather surprised PENG2 to see you say nearly 100 % needs to buy into and practise CDM. Half of our houses now use efficient lights, thought they save no more than 20 % of the energy expected and but a few dollars saving per year. I suggest significant numbers now buy into it for space heat savings, even without incentives. Higher power rates will also a driver for that. Perhaps you are too young to recall the buy in, in Nfld for insulation after the oil crisis in the 1970s. With the right incentives and measures and awareness, I suggest you would have to ration the uptake that so many would want to buy in.
      As an option in 2012 it was deliberately not assessed. As to now, with the current consideration of power shortage problems this winter, and possible loss of 30%,and likely these problems for the future, I suggest CDM should even now be seriously considered, though more than a decade later than when it was best to start. If Liberty`s fears happen, the shit will hit the fan this winter.Maybe that is what it will take to buy into the value of CDM. Other jurisdictions do not wait for rotating outages to buy in.

    • WA:

      What I meant is that we would need a culture shift – if on a street with 10 houses and 3 practice CDM, I am not sure the practice of CDM would last.

      You are right, if only 30% or so practice CDM we could save enough of peak load – but I don't think with that much uptake CDM would endure as a practice in NL, we need a culture shift here. If 30% began to practice CDM, would the other 70% eventually buy-in – I am not so sure.

      No doubt it wasn't fairly considered if at all, and all measures of conservative/eco-friendly living need to be considered.


    • PENG2, I misinterpreted your statement of near 100 % buying in to CDM, as if that happens immediately, so go from zero to near 100%. Many must buy in, but effective CDM is a time process and the culture change happens over 8 or 10 years to get many and most buying in. It is not even possible that all could buy in at once, as there is insufficient tradesmen and contractors into that field initially, so it is ramped up. Example : year one reduce the grid load by 10MW,(about 3000 of 180,000 houses buy in), year 2, reduce 20MW,6000 houses, years 3, 30 MW reduction, so 9000 houses. You level off say at 40 MW a year until your goal is achieved, and then ramp down on new CDM
      CDM is not like recycling where one might grow tired and lazy of sorting plastics and paper. Once you insulated your basement, it is therefore for good and that CDM works year after year. Once you go and install efficient space heat, it is good for 15-20 years. More efficient windows with a life of 30 years, air sealing, for many , many years. So like the Timex ad, it goes on ticking and ticking. So would CDM endure, yes and grows each year, even with better house construction standards etc. Most jurisdictions are into this big now for a decade and more. NS reducing their peak at 40 MW per year, and not big on electric heat to start with, so their achievement is tremendous, and started 4 years before MF sanction. Did Stratton look at that at all, I think not. He chose Quebec, with their surplus and ultra low cost hydro for his model.

    Testimony from economists will be at play next week. Testimony from Williamson visoins, and benefits or not to First Nation people is important, but nothing could proceed with sanction until they came up with a false forecast assumption, to then permit false planning options. So ducks in a row for the boondoggle; 1. DW's vision that MFs might be worth close to 100 billion! So if only 5 or 10 or 13 billion, it is a must, and a kick in the shins to Quebec, he reasoned. 2. Show we need the power, 824 MW peak, or enough of it with long term growth to show an economic case. 3. Produce a forecast for that power need: Strattons's job, to which he delivered in spades.
    Recall the testimony : he used a econometric model. That word brought feigned bewilderment to all parties, even Leblanc. I mean, how often does Debbie Cooper talk about econometrics? Yet the word has been around since 1910. Even before Sir William Coaker built the generating plant near Port Union, and installed electric heat in his bungalow in 1917. Did he use econometric for forecasting? Maybe so.
    Econo suggests things that effect the economy that effects electricity consumption. Metrics is just a way that such things are measured.
    So, common sense things: estimating new houses to be built, what is the disposable income, increasing or decreasing; is the GDP, Gross domestic product increasing and by how much; and for heat for houses, what percentage is using electricity with standard heaters vs oil or wood heat. So nothing difficult there; ECONOMETRIC MODEL, based on the economy. So why the astonishment as if this was rocket science? So you plug in a few numbers into a computer program and bingo, a forecast. Now they do twig the model a little for something other than economic indicators, that helps improve the reliability. That twigging has to do with innovations in energy efficiency: better lights, fridges, insulation, windows etc, since it is common sense that manufacturers always build better mousetraps, and also better computers and all things so they use LESS electricity. So too for house builders, always improving construction techniques.
    So for this common sense knowledge, Stratton's says we throw in the wonderful thing called the "TECHNOLOGY FACTOR". That went over the head of most all, Dan Simmons of Nalcor and even David of GT
    So, his magic formula for MF forecasting, to get to sanction……. done.
    One problem: it is not best method, not best practise to do just that. Especially for a multi billion dollar project .
    Winston Adams

    • Peak demand had been increasing on average from 2010 to 2015, its rate of increase started decreasing in 2013, and peak demand itself has been decreasing since 2015.

      In 2017 peak demand was decreasing and just 50 MW above our peak in 2004.

    • Good point MA, this needs to be front and center at the inquiry. Full scale charts need to be presented, with the full picture, not just the summary points that you have made, just to show Stratton and the entire population, that the models and software is only as good as the person using it. Or the old adage, garbage in, garbage out. Of course we all know that they had pre determines in mind of what that wanted it to show, a steady increase in useage and demand for power so they just selected the model and put in info to get the desired outcome. Some professionals, and on the stand they talked like world class, when in fact they were just cooking the books, as anyone with alterior motives can do. They were hell bent on showing we needed the power and muskrat was the least cost option. That was their starting point and they just worked backwards from there. Cheers, average Joe.

    • You got the picture right Joe. Now Stratton, his testimony was this: that he acknowledged that his Econometric model was not best practise. Who advised him it was not best practise….well, it was Manitoba Internationsal Consultants. Yet Stratton acknowledged also that he still proceeded to use his Econometric model though that alone was not best practise. So we end up with false assumptions big time, and their forecasts off the walls as to accuruacy almost immediately, not needing 10, 25 or 50 years to go astray. And to add insult to injury, he says he would do the same thing all over again, he would change nothing. If that is not world class incompetence, what is I ask…..
      Now this stick handling, especially by Dan Simmonds,(and a bit by Kate) to make this smell like roses (not using best practise) was just all fine and dandy for then a 6 billion project, is remarkable, to convince the judge, and all parties there.They were sold a bill of goods as to his professional forecasting skills. One big load of world class crap, right before our eyes at this Inquiry, and then endorse by Leblanc. Unbelieveable. A masterful event pulled off by Nalcor , worthy for its boldness to mislead the public. Simmmons and Stratton is deserving of some kind of an award for their practised deception of what good forecasting would entail.

    • Good luck with getting 'full scale charts" presented. Not likely.

      Nevertheless, over the years I have done the best I can to do just that (see http://www.vision2041.com ).

      Also, when parties with standing failed to challenge Stratton on much of his forecast ASSUMPTIONS (as they were not much more than that) — see https://www.thetelegram.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/letter-nalcor-excluded-electricity-price-elasticity-why-245710/ —- I would be surprised if they go in depth and provide the public with such charts (though I agree with you that that is what should be done).

      Also, it would be helpful/eye opening to show how Nalcor used the island's 40-year historical energy use record to often argue that its 0.8% average annual compound growth rate was/is "conservative" — chart also available at http://www.vision2041.com

    • Leblanc concluding remark after Strattons performance:
      “ Today was an example when something extremely complicated was very well explained by the witnesses as a result of the questioning of Ms O`Brien and counsel“
      So I would have to watch the full 6 hrs to see if Leblanc asked even one question, I doubt it. So it must have been like duck soap, as they say, as to being complicated. All was explained to his entire satisfaction. Why did Leblanc not ask :How come your forecasts are off so much already, threatening the economics of the whole scheme., and you say you would do the same all over again, why is that…..

    • Right on again MA, when you say,"used the 40 year historical energy record". From 2010 back 40 years would take us back to 1970, and they used the increase in power useage from that date. That was not real increase useage, that was the mere fact that people, especially outside side John's, that people we putting in baseboard heaters for the first time. Prior to that most were using alternate home heating, like wood, coal, and oil furnace. Yes the poles had gone through, but most were content with having the lights, and enough power to run the refrigator, and a few other household appliances, but not baseboard heating. But by mid 80's most had switched to baseboard heating, and after that it was just switching at a much lower rate to saturation point of maybe 80 or 85 percent. If they had started their data at 1990 to 2010, that rate of increased useage would have been much less. Maybe your numbers show that. You don't need to be world class to figure that out, just a little bit of common scenes. But as we say, there are stats, and stats, and then just dam lies says Joe blow.

    • Well that would be the obvious question, wouldn't it… if this inquiry wasn't just another "world-class" white-washed farce…

      "Mr. Stratton, can you please tell the Inquiry how your load forecast has been performing up to the current date?"

      Bloody-well ridiculous.

    • I suggest MA do a piece, maybe Part 1 and Part 2 if needed for UG, fact and evidenced based with charts from Nalcor data. Stuff you likely will not see done at the Inquiry on this forecasting farce. Uncle Gnarley,(Uncle Nobby or Knobby, Danny Williams called this blog at the Inquiry,upset that critics question his judgement),so, yes, UG being the Shaddow Inquiry as Robert Holmes says.

    • From MA's submission above…

      "Peak demand had been increasing on average from 2010 to 2015, its rate of increase started decreasing in 2013, and peak demand itself has been decreasing since 2015.

      "In 2017 peak demand was decreasing and just 50 MW above our peak in 2004."

      "Load has also been trending down since 2015 and in 2017 was more than 200 GWh below our 2004 high."

      So since the sham inquiry, for some mysterious reason, neglected to raise such crucially revealing questions, I raise them now with the UG shadow inquiry…

      How do these actual trends to date currently compare with what the 2010 Stratton/Nalcor pre-sanction load forecast predicts?

      Does the 2010 Stratton/Nalcor load forecast match trends to date or is it deviating?

      If it is deviating, is it deviating in such a way that the Stratton forecast load is greater than actual? (thereby favouring sanction)

      Or is it deviating in such a way that the Stratton forecast load is less than actual? (thereby NOT favouring sanction)

      Understood that the sampling period is of shorter duration, approximately 8 years, however, it does occur over about 16 percent of the forecast time-period of 50 years, and also during the initial period of the forecast, at which time forecast deviation should be at a minimum if the 2010 Stratton/Nalcor forecast has any degree of accuracy.

    • Addendum…

      Considering that Stratton claims he devoloped his forecast based on a 20-year forecast period and then extrapolated to get the 50-year forecast, the initial forecast time period is in fact occurs over 40 percent of the 20-year forecast period, which would seem ample time to establish whether the 2010 Stratton/Nalcor load forecast is on track or not.

    • Several points (from memory):-

      Peak demand and load over the last 8 years has in large part been influenced by Vale, Long Harbour. which in turn would be expected to have a higher load/demand in half that first 20 year period.

      If Nalcor extrapolated (based on the first 20 year period) to go out anoth 37 years, then that if not reduced would improperly affect the forecast for that 37 year period.

      Also, as stated, this 8 year period covered a fairly short period of time and MHI's 'risk magnification" factor would be limited. Also Vale's forecast would be fairly accurate and shorter forecasts would thereby be expected to be more accurate.

    • Folks – you are asking for a remodel of the load forecast but don't forget that Nalcor revised the load forecast in 2016 and again in 2017 – see Stan Marshall's June project updates in both years. Part of the work you want is already done and made official. Part of it isn't done though because the revised forecast still seems too optimistic for load growth.
      Regardless of that, the suggested comparison of sanction load forecast vs actuals to date would be an interesting starting point.

  16. Anyone know when the next update on the MF costs will be made public? Been "stuck" at $12.7Billion for a while now (or $10Billion as proponents like to refer to it). I think we kind of know this sucker will come in at $15Billion if not $20Billion. We're still well below $100Billion when DW will start having doubts-LOL.

  17. Good Morning and Happy Thanksgiving.

    Bruneau the younger presents a real dilemma to the 30% or so, taken to support of Danny's dream. This highly dedicated and qualified Engineer, on his own, has used critical analysis, and science based reasoning to question the pursuit of an emotionally based whim. Cross examination and upcoming Economics analysis are on collision course. Stay tuned.

    Where are the project files? Where is the current project cost report, including cost forecast to complete and commissioning?

  18. Further to my 29 September 2018 Telegram letter referenced above (the part that begins with "On a separate point") :—

    It seems to me that Nalcor's lawyer (Simmons, and Nalcor's Mr. Moulton ) are incorrect when Simmons suggests (paraphrased) that load forecast inaccuracies/variations at the end of the forecast period "…have (a) relatively smaller affect on the CPWs", and then Mr. Moulton says — "That's correct".

    See my partial inquiry transcript below:

    Simmons:— So, a cost incurred far in the future contributes less to the CPW value than a cost incurred in the near future,

    Warren:— Yes, so a good case in point is …………..

    Simmons:—- So, part of the predicting what's going to happen far in the future in each of the interconnected case and the isolated case depends on Mr. Stratton's extrapolated load forecast … what load is going to be in the future.

    So, can either of you comment on how important variations in the load forecast at the end of the predictive period are to the CPW, versus a variation early in the period?

    Bob Moulton:—- Well they would be much, much, much less. They would have much, much less effect on the, ah, especially going out 50, 60 years, they would have much, much less effect on the CPW.

    Simmons:—- So if you are calculating the CPW of two alternatives that reach out 50 years in the future, if there are inaccuracies in the load forecast at the distant end of those time periods, you're saying they have relatively smaller affect on the CPWs.

    Bob Moulton:—- That's correct.


    The first part of the exchange (which deals with costing only) is correct.

    But when Simmons goes to the impact that load forecast inaccuracies/variations have over distant periods of time, he suggests that CPW discounting applies in the way that dollars are, its impact is discounted.

    I think that when it comes to the load forecast input factor, this is an erroneous understanding of how the CPW works —- And Simmons led Moulton right into agreeing to his possibly erroneous interpretation of how CPW would work in this case.

    "Economist" (who commented on a previous post) seemed to disagree with my view.

    But I remain of the view that MHI's assertion that long term forecasts (such as Nalcor's 56-year forecast) creates 'risk magnification' is valid, and that Simmons/Moulton's view is incorrect.

    While during CPW analyses (dollars/costs) are properly subject to discounting (due to inflation I presume), the error of increased load forecasts is increased AND MAGNIFIED (see MHI report) due the length of time into the future, it is not a dollar/cost factor in the same way as inflation for example.

    And therefore, the Simmons/Moulton characterization that far distant load forecast error/variations have a "relatively smaller affect on the CPWs" is significantly in error and if left unchallenged can and likely will mislead the inquiry.

    • It seems obvious that long range forecasting errors magnifies the risk. On only for this in 57 years, but consider the cone of error for hurricane paths even 5 or 6 days out. I would tend to think you are right that Simmons and Moulton is wrong on the CPW effect, but think expertise of very qualified economists would be better than my opinion on that, so lets hope we get that clarified. But clear that Simmons had well planned his deceptions. Label him Deceptor in chief, and too we have Martin , the Gatekeeper, like St Peter.

  19. For anyone interested —- that CPW discussion is on the MF website (the impact on costs, begins at the around the 5:38:40 time mark——–and (the switch to load forecast portion) around the 5:40 time mark .

  20. You have a 100 year mortgage on MF. You have wiped out any future investment of new revenues from CF post 2041 as they will be needed to repay creditors after bankrupcy. Rather than sell assets like gull to climb out of debt, the liberals will wait for creditors to make the decisions for them. and try to save face giving away gull while blaming pc’s for the next 100 years.
    have fun with rising health care costs and your aging population. printing more money always works.