On the NB Power Sale
Originally posted on Half an Hour, December 12, 2009.
I am in broad agreement with the argument presented in this article.
The crux is the following: NB has no internal energy resources except wind, a limited amount of hydro, and a very limited amount of gas. If we're lucky, we'll discover uranium and have the argument about whther to mine it.
The current generating capacity using coal and oil is (a) environmentally unsustainable, and (b) increasingly expensive. In short, we cannot rely on it.
Wind is a viable alternative. However, wind power capacity costs on average at least a million dollars per megawatt. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy07osti/41435.pdf It's a fantastic investment, and we should make it, over time, but the cost to generate 4000 megawatts is 4 billion dollars, which we cannot afford carrying existing NB Power debt and provincial debt.
To summarize, then, we need to look at the NB Power deal, not just from the perspective of the terms of the deal, but also considering what happens if the deal is not signed.
- if the deal is not signed, then we have no way to generate clean power other than an outlay of $4 billion to generate wind capacity (probably the plan before the sale, and would have been bridged via market-rate purchases of power from Hydro Quebec - the 'million dollar a day' situation we are in now).
- worse, if the deal is not signed, or if the government falls as a result of the deal before it is signed, then we face a worst-case scenario of outright privatization of the utility, which would leave us with rapidly increasing costs and no clean energy sources
- otherwise, it's status quo: an increasing NB Power debt, rapidly increasing energy costs, uncertain supply, and expenses of a million a day until LePreau is finished.
None of these is better than the sale, and should not be accepted.
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