Kennedy muses about other Labrador hydro projects

James McLeod
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Says a report on small hydro developments coming within weeks

Jerome Kennedy

Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy told reporters Tuesday the government is looking at options to power isolated communities up and down the Labrador Coast.

The massive Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development has dominated discussion of energy policy in the province for more than two years, but it won’t be part of the solution for isolated communities in Labrador that currently rely on diesel power for electricity.

But that doesn’t mean the government isn’t thinking about it at all, Kennedy said.

“It’ll all come down to the economic feasibility of the project, and certainly, if it can be done cheaper than what we’re paying for the cost of diesel right now, we’ll certainly do it,” he told reporters outside the House of Assembly Tuesday. “As a government we’re certainly committed to providing cheap power to all residents of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but especially we recognize the difficulties in using diesel power in the coastal communities of Labrador, and if we can rid ourselves of that, we certainly will.”


Reducing reliance

The issue came up during question period Tuesday in the House of Assembly when Liberal House leader Yvonne Jones wanted to know what the government is doing to reduce the reliance on polluting, fossil-fuel power on the Labrador coast.

“While government is touting the main benefit of Muskrat Falls as the ability to shut down Holyrood, we have 21 communities along the Labrador Coast on diesel generation paying some of the highest rates commercially anywhere in the province,” Jones said in the House.

The provincial government heavily subsidizes the diesel power on the Labrador coast, paying out about $40 million each year to keep the electricity rates affordable in the small, isolated communities.

The issue is that while Muskrat Falls will create a glut of electricity, the cost of running transmission lines through Labrador to the communities currently relying on diesel is just not worth it, Kennedy said.


Promising rivers

But Kennedy said the government is looking at a couple of promising rivers in southern Labrador.

He said the government is expecting a report on that option to be completed within weeks.

On top of that, if the Voisey’s Bay nickel mine starts doing underground mining, it will need a lot more power.

That could allow the nearby communities of Nain and Natuashish to plug into the same power supply the mine uses.

But again, the power probably won’t come from Muskrat Falls, Kennedy told reporters, because it’s not cheap to run transmission lines all that way.

“We mightn’t necessarily need a line from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Voisey’s Bay. We’re not quite certain of the power that would be needed for Voisey’s Bay underground mining if they go that way, but it’s safe to assume it’s around 40 to 50 megawatts of power,” Kennedy said. “We’d look at whether or not we could develop rivers up that way.”

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Geographic location: Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Stevencdn
    November 30, 2012 - 12:10

    How can NF sell this power at 14 cent per KWH ? Rates will be 14 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017, 14.6 cents in 2018 and 14.8 cents in 2020. The average USA kwh price is lower than 10 cents per KWH. Quebec power is produced at 4 cents KWH. This is a really bad project folks.

  • Cold Future
    November 28, 2012 - 10:51

    Brett, The market would be a bit larger going through Quebec than around it. You would be much closer to larger markets through Quebec. You have to go through two provinces and one state just to get close by the roundabout route. And you could save potentially $2 billion (1/2 of the total savings) but you would have to negotiate and make a deal. So we are agreed, you have to tink further than tomorrow and tink smart-comprend?

  • Cold Future
    November 28, 2012 - 10:50

    Brett, The market would be a bit larger going through Quebec than around it. You would be much closer to larger markets through Quebec. You have to go through two provinces and one state just to get close by the roundabout route. And you could save potentially $2 billion (1/2 of the total savings) but you would have to negotiate and make a deal. So we are agreed, you have to tink further than tomorrow and tink smart-comprend?

    • Brett
      November 30, 2012 - 09:25

      Agreed - I was commenting on why we shouldn't use the power to electrify small communities up and down the coast of Labrador. Bypassing Quebec because of a pissing contest is stupid, and yet that's what we're stuck doing because Quebec Hydro wanted to foist their infrastructure maintenance/upgrades on us without giving us better access to open markets (ie. they want to buy from us and resell after making us pay for the infrastructure)

  • Concerned
    November 28, 2012 - 10:02

    Kennedy want to build transmission lines to the mines and charge taxpayers for it or stuff us with it on utility bills. He's out of his GD mind. Someone get rid of this pork barrelor, mine warlord. Resign Kennedy you're out of control spending public money and bilking citizens. You couldn't get in on your own merit without Danny now you think you own the public purse.

  • david
    November 28, 2012 - 09:06

    "Musing" in public is the Newfoundland government equivalent of a long-considered. fully analysed, well-designed project anywhere else. Get ready for the other shoe, folks.

  • crista
    November 28, 2012 - 08:47

    how can any one talk deals with muskrat falls not just muskrat falls while you have another deal still on going,upper churchill falls could and might have to go to court to decide what was done with churchill falls deals because if any wrong doing went on in the agreement look at the process it is going to have to go through it was signed to be decided an if there was under handed decisions went on if not, it would not been put in seal for so long,you are talking about land rights and resources rights and if not done right you are talking $$$$ human rights and courts???? SERIOUS. If not done in legal documents you are talking government and bussiness and revenue, and if THAT went on it was corruption that is crimes against justice and laws,rights and statues who is your judge for that???? who then gets to decide those human rights and freedoms???? who has got the facts on that deal has it been released if not how can muskrat falls been signed if churchill falls deal is still in seal???? what kind of an effect will it take on governments and bussiness and the system if you do not have the rights and disclosure on the deals, who has the rights of the deals????

  • Brett
    November 28, 2012 - 08:41

    Cold Future: You should think before you spew verbal diarrhea on the chat boards. How large is the market for sending electricity to these small communities? How large is the market we have access to from bypassing Quebec? If we wanted to add additional power to the lines bypassing Quebec, what would the additional cost be to do so? What is the eventual or legacy benefit to providing power to these small towns via muskrat falls vs. other sources? Don't hurt yourself trying to think further than tomorrow.

  • Cold Future
    November 28, 2012 - 06:42

    Its not cheap to run transmission lines down the coast but it is OK to spend a fortune to go around Quebec-the horse manure flows freely. We are looking at power sites to provide CHEAP power to Labrador but the huge money losing giveaway at Muskrat is OK. Waste $3 to $4 billion (interest during construction left out to make the numbers look better) to go around Quebec and put it all on the taxpayers back and replace Holyrood which can provide a cheap source of energy well into the future until the Upper Churchill is available.It is high time we got independent unbiased review and referendum if necessary.

    • Maxime
      November 30, 2012 - 13:46

      I'm from Quebec and I find it really sad we can't negociate to get energy from Labrador passing by Quebec to big markets. That could be a good win-win deal. But it seems like our governments have made it an ego thing. Not enough cooperation from Quebec and some kind of big ego trip from NF maybe, both combined we're all gonna lose. I hope NF and Quebec can cooperate better in the future instead of fighting like stupid like this. If it can't be done, god luck with Muskrat and the rest, hope it will work and you'll make money out of it in the long run. Max