What they said
vs. What really happened
Broken Promises on Record
Muskrat Mistruthsprev nextThat's what we call... A Broken Promise
What they said...Nova Scotia NDP Premier Darrell Dexter launched an attack ad targeting Nova Scotia Liberal leader Stephen McNeil.
The ad, titled Ask Newfoundland, says, “We don’t know much about Stephen McNeil, but we do know he’s opposed to clean, Atlantic Canadian Power from Muskrat Falls.”
It concludes, “If you want an affordable made in Atlantic Canada energy solution he isn’t [the guy].”
Premier Darrell Dexter has gone so far as to suggest the electricity coming through the Maritime Link from Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland is “… clean, green local hydro from Muskrat Falls.”
Not surprisingly, the attack ad focusing on Hydro Quebec is full of mistruths.
What really happened...
The first major inaccuracy is that the ad fails to mention that we already import power from Hydro Quebec.
On April 5, 2012 when Nova Scotia Liberal leader Stephen McNeil pressed Dexter on the possibility of importing more energy from Hydro Quebec, Dexter said, “I'm sure the Leader of the Liberal Party would be aware that we signed a memorandum of understanding with the former Liberal government in New Brunswick for the upgrades to the transmission line that would make it possible for us to take a greater amount of power out of Quebec if it were available at a price that would be cheaper than it is here.”
That’s right: “possible for us to take a greater amount of power out of Quebec if it were available at a price that would be cheaper than it is here.”
Dexter continued, “I'll repeat what I just said … where it is to the economic advantage of the province, we [import power from Hydro Quebec.]”
When McNeil once again asked Dexter about importing power from Hydro Quebec, Dexter replied a third time: “I'll just repeat again - this already takes place.”
The second fallacy is that Stephen McNeil is opposed to the idea of importing power from Newfoundland. The Nova Scotia Liberal Party and its leader Stephen McNeil have said we should buy our power from the lowest cost source – if that’s Quebec so be it. The same goes for Newfoundland.
On February 28, 2013, the Chronicle Herald wrote, “In fact, Mr. McNeil hasn’t ruled out Muskrat Falls, but hasn’t accepted the case for it as proven either. He has mostly been a critic of the government being too uncritical in its support of the project and of not doing enough to examine alternatives like purchasing power from Hydro-Quebec.”
So, it’s not the idea of importing from Newfoundland through the Maritime Link that’s the problem, but the deal itself and the Nova Scotia NDP government’s negotiating skills that are being called into question.
The third mistruth in the ad was also mentioned by the same Herald editorial. The Nova Scotia NDP ad suggests Muskrat Falls is an alternative to importing from Quebec. However, the Herald editorial correctly points out: “As the government well knows, Emera sees the Maritime Link itself as a route for potential power purchases from Quebec.”
The Herald concludes by calling the Harper-style attach ad “preposterously silly.”
The Nova Scotia NDP attack ad also attempts to argue the electricity from Muskrat Falls is “affordable,” but the NDP and Premier Darrell Dexter don’t know the price.
Some industry experts have attempted to make estimates.
One such example comes from Tom Adams, an independent energy advisor who has worked for Ontario Independent Electricity Market Operator Board of Directors and the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Energy Board of Management, said the NDP attack “displays ignorance.”
Adams goes on to point out that Hydro Quebec is currently selling power to Vermont for 5.8 cents/kWh. When he turns his sites to Muskrat Falls, he argues “…the price is only about 11 cents/kWh. By 2022, the price jumps to 16 cents/kWh then escalates from there.”
The state of Vermont has gone so far to publicly praise Hydro Quebec as "competitively priced and reliable.”
In a column for the National Post, Adams has gone so far to state that, “The governments of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Canada have teamed up to deliver what may prove to be the worst hydroelectric project ever in Canada — Muskrat Falls.”
Even the Sierra Club has said Muskrat Falls is “… a huge economic boondoggle."
They conclude: “The Lower Churchill hydro project is being touted as a green power project. It is not!"
The final point of contention in the Nova Scotia NDP attack ad is something that is frequently repeated by Premier Darrell Dexter – that it is environmentally friendly.
The Sierra Club takes issue with this and says Muskrat Falls is, indeed, “dirty hydro.”
The Sierra Club is not alone. Other environmental experts are critical of the Nova Scotia NDP’s endorsement of Muskrat Falls.
Neal Livingston, a renewable practicitoner in Cape Breton with 30 years of experience says the Muskrat Falls deal is mainly built for the benefit of Emera: “It appears that we’re staging up very quickly for Emera to own a transmission line from Nova Scotia to New England, and we’re going to export the renewables, without turning off coal.”
It is the belief of the Nova Scotia Liberal leader Stephen McNeil that Premier Darrell Dexter has ignored his leadership responsibilities on this file and handed management of the province’s energy policy to Emera and Nova Scotia Power.
During a speech to a crowd at the 2013 Liberal AGM in Halifax, McNeil said, “Where [Emera CEO] Chris Huskilson leads….Premier Dexter follows.”
He continued, “The government of Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotia Power’s biggest cheerleader, Darrell Dexter, has locked the people of this province into deal that puts Nova Scotians at the mercy of Emera for a generation.”
McNeil concluded, “This is a great deal for the monopoly … for its bottom line … it’s a great deal for shareholders … Quite frankly, the CEO of Emera is doing his job … What we don’t know is whether this is a good deal for Nova Scotians and Nova Scotian ratepayers. That’s the premier’s job. And he’s failing. He’s not standing up for ratepayers. He’s standing up to protect the monopoly of Nova Scotia Power. He’s not leading. He’s following.”
Neal Livingston agrees that the province’s energy plan is based around the interests of a “private company and its profit,” he said: “So effectively we’re allowing the next 50 years to 100 years of our energy supply to be planned around a private company and its profit, and that’s not coming with significant coal reductions in the short term.”
We know a great deal about Muskrat Falls, but we don’t know one essential piece of information – what power from Muskrat Falls will cost and what it will mean for our power bills.
© 2012 NS Liberal Party