"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

R.I.P. R.I. M.O.U.

Back in 2007, Danny Williams announced, with some fanfare, the signing of a not-overly relevant piece of paper involving Rhode Island.

Then, all of a sudden, nothing happened. For two years.

The Rhode Island MOU was conspicuously absent from the ostensible Natural Resources Minister's list of "multiple fronts" in a press release put out on Wednesday:
Transmission access requests have been filed with Quebec and New Brunswick as an exit point into Ontario, the Maritimes and the northeast U.S. Nalcor Energy has also entered into discussions with Emera and Nova Scotia Power to study the subsea link and access to northeast U.S. markets. A full environmental assessment process has started for the generation portion of the Lower Churchill project. Appropriate consultations continue to take place with Aboriginal groups and discussions are proceeding with the Innu Nation on an Impacts and Benefits Agreement.
Indeed, on Wednesday, thanks to a sharp question by the Leader of the Opposition, it was up to the ostensible Natural Resources Minister to preside over the funeral rites of the Rhode Island MOU whose birth was so ostentatiously presided over by the Big Guy:
MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions today to follow up on the Lower Churchill piece that we were asking about and debating yesterday in the House. Government has touted the State of Rhode Island as a potential market for Lower Churchill power. In fact, they announced and signed an MOU with them June 27, 2007, with a great deal of fanfare at that time.

I have a copy of the MOU, and I actually accessed it through the State of Rhode Island government, not through the open, accountable government they claim to be in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, two years ago they agreed to conduct a joint assessment for a long-term sale and purchase agreement of Lower Churchill power. I ask the minister today: Has this ever been completed and, if so, can you table it in the House of Assembly?

MS DUNDERDALE: In June 2007 we did, indeed, enter an MOU with Rhode Island, and during that time it was agreed that we would study the possibility of us wheeling power and selling power to the State of Rhode Island. We did the work, Mr. Speaker; Rhode Island did the work. They found out that they did not have the capacity to negotiate a long-term power purchase agreement with Nalcor on behalf of the Province. Nor were they able, in their Legislature, to do the regulatory changes that were required in order to wheel electricity into the state. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we learned a lot through that discussion but it was not possible and we have moved on because other customers are in a position to be able to do business with Newfoundland and Labrador.

MS JONES: When they signed the MOU with the State of Rhode Island, there was a big press conference and there was a whole lot of fanfare, but it took us two years to find out that it came to nothing, absolutely nothing.

Maybe the minister can stand and tell me today what markets or what customers are you looking to secure power purchase agreements with, that have the capacity to be able to negotiate with Nalcor on Lower Churchill power.

MS DUNDERDALE: Potential markets exist for us in Labrador, on the Island of Newfoundland, in Ontario, through the New England States, and New York.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely possible to wheel power through and sell power. Mr. Speaker, we are doing it today. For the first time in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, we are wheeling power through Quebec from border to border, and we are able to do that because of the Open Access Transmission Tariff. We are selling power into the United States, so it is possible. That is why we have OATT. Provinces are doing it through the country; utilities are doing it through the country. It is entirely possible.
Incidentally, isn't it amazing how, in Ms. Blunderdale's physics, it is simultanously possible and impossible to wheel power through Quebec?



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