When Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady announced a special review of the province’s electrical system and rates, to be conducted by the province’s Public Utilities Board (PUB), Nalcor Energy president and CEO Stan Marshall said Wednesday it was understood there is some work in that for Nalcor Energy.
There will be documents to file, testimony to give, requests for information to respond to.
“There are a lot of burdens being placed upon us. We have a (Newfoundland and Labrador) Hydro (rate) hearing, we have an inquiry, we have now this referral to the PUB, we have ongoing issues with respect to construction. It’s a lot of demands on our time,” Marshall said Wednesday, speaking with reporters in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Marshall said the premier informed him of the plan for the PUB review before the announcement was made. There was some discussion. But he said, “As always, the premier doesn’t always listen to my advice.”
While it adds a further regulatory burden on Nalcor Energy, the Crown corporation will respond to the demands, he said.
Early days at inquiry
Marshall took questions from reporters after a first appearance at public hearings for the Muskrat Falls Inquiry at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre. He took the inquiry to school, upon request, running through a crash-course introduction to the various elements making up the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
His presentation covered everything from the location of the North Spur to how electricity will be produced at the generating station on the Churchill River.
“Really I was just trying to accommodate the request from the commission to try to explain in the simplest way possible what this project looked like, what the drivers were and where we are,” he told reporters following the session.
During his presentation, he said Nalcor Energy and its contractors are getting ready over the next few weeks to begin installing the turbines at the site. He noted some other ongoing tasks, including final concrete work on the North dam and work to build the Labrador-Island Link to full service.
In his overview, Marshall referred to the Muskrat Falls project as mainly a transmission project, both in terms of cost considerations and the technical challenge. The project involves 1,100 kilometres of new high-voltage, direct current transmission line running from Muskrat Falls in Labrador to Soldiers Pond, on the island’s Avalon Peninsula. There are another two, 250-kilometre alternating current lines running between Muskrat Falls and the existing hydroelectric power plant at Churchill Falls, further upriver.
Inquiry co-counsel Kate O’Brien, at the close of the presentation, flagged a picture in one of Marshall’s slides from during the construction of the powerhouse at Muskrat Falls, showing the “integrated cover system” (ICS) being built over the area at one point. Sometimes referred to as the “dome,” it was scrapped before completion, and O’Brien indicated to the commissioner it would be a subject for discussion later in the hearings.
Marshall is also expected to speak more about some project specifics when recalled later in the hearings.
The inquiry will not be in session on Thursday, as the venue was not available, but will sit again on Friday. On Thursday, inquiry counsel and lawyers representing the parties with standing are being offered a tour of the dam site.