Former MHA plans to ask questions about due diligence and the Muskrat Falls project
Being designated an intervenor for a case before the Public Utilities Board (PUB) is different from giving a presentation on a particular topic. It usually requires the ability to question witnesses and presenters, in addition to offering arguments.
Danny Dumaresque at the Public Utilities Board (PUB) pre-hearing conference Wednesday. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The added power of the intervenor is exactly why former MHA Danny Dumaresque requested to be listed as one, for the ongoing review by the PUB of system reliability and blackout events on the island of Newfoundland from Jan. 2-8.
The case includes the standard intervenors seen by the utilities regulator, including the consumer advocate and the co-called Island Industrial Customers group — Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, Teck Resources and North Atlantic Refining.
In Dumaresque’s first in-person address at a pre-hearing conference Wednesday, he said he wanted to have a role in the proceedings to help assure due diligence was undertaken by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in relation to its power generators, in the period leading up to blackouts.
He also wants to confirm the response to the situation was appropriate on the part of the power utilities.
“I also want to do what I can to make sure that people are comfortable that the due diligence has been applied in the planning of the transmission of the power from Muskrat Falls, across Labrador and particularly the laying of the submarine cable on the Strait of Belle Isle and the transmission of power from the Northern Peninsula, over the Long Range Mountains, into Soldiers Pond,” he said, speaking into the mike, but directly to PUB members.
The man who ran for the Liberal leadership in 2013 has been a vocal proponent of the idea of building a tunnel between the island and Labrador.
He said he also wants to know what the backup will be in the case of an outage in the days after the hydroelectric dam at Muskrat Falls begins feeding power to homes and businesses on the island, through the Labrador-Island Link.
The PUB has yet to decide whether or not it will push to have its review include consideration of system reliability of the system beyond the next three years, or touching on other Muskrat Falls-related pieces.
“I’m prepared to dedicate whatever time and energy is necessary to attend all conferences and technical briefings and also to avail of whatever professional advice is necessary as I go about trying to make sure that as much information is brought out to the public as possible to give them the confidence that we will have a reliable transmission and generation in this province for generations to come,” Dumaresque told the PUB.
His entrance as an intervenor — as an individual — is not unprecedented.
In ongoing review of proposed changes to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s rates, for example, Labrador MP Yvonne Jones has come on as an intervenor, as previously reported by TC Media.
In that case, Vale, the Innu Nation and the towns of Labrador City, Wabush, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Northwest River have entered in the same capacity, in addition to the consumer advocate, Industrial Customers and Newfoundland Power.
“I guess my passion for good government superceded any partisanship that I ever had,” Dumaresque said of his participation, adding he believes the public has yet to be made fully aware of the risks associated with the power system when Muskrat Falls is online and Holyrood is decommissioned.