I live in an area where our electricity is supplied by Newfoundland & Labrador Hydro (NALCOR). After living there for 35 years I could write a book on this power supplier but in this letter I will highlight a few incidents that happened lately.
Last fall NALCOR had a planned 4 hour power outage for some changes to the power system for the whole Green Bay area, but was down for seven hours. Shortly after that Newfoundland was hit with a snowstorm and many areas were affected including Green Bay South. In the same storm Badger lost their power and was on the news for several days. Their supplier, Newfoundland Power, brought in a generator.
Green Bay South, with a bigger population, also lost their power. We were told the problem was caused at the South Brook area. What got me upset was not that we lost our power but the way NALCOR handled it. We have two transmission lines running side by side from South Brook to Triton. The second was put down there when the fish plant was built. A few houses in Triton never lost their power because they were on the fish plant line. All NALCOR had to do was transfer the power from one transmission line to the other and we would not have had a loss of power for several days.
On Jan. 3 I went to Placentia to spend some time with a friend. On Jan, 4 at 9 a.m. the power went out and did not come back until Sunday at 12:30 p.m. At the time the Premier Kathy Dunderdale and the chair of NALCOR, Ed Martin, were having a press conference explaining the problems, or excuses, why we had a province-wide blackout.
First was the cold weather. I agree but the weather we saw in the blackout is the type of weather that we can expect to see every year in January, February and March.
Second was that NALCOR had two generating stations down for maintenance (very poor timing).
Third, Holyrood was only operating at one third of its capacity. Why?
The Premier's reason was the aging infrastructure, as the Holyrood plant is 40 years old. I would advise the Premier to take a tour of the Power House in Deer Lake, which is approximately 90 years old. Operated by the private sector, Deer Lake just goes to show that the private sector is much more efficient than Crown Corporations, that do not have to make a profit but depend on the tax payers to keep them going.
It is not my policy to kick someone when they are down but NALCOR is a Crown Corporation who ought to make sure the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador have the basic needs of light and heat, especially when it's cold, and have enough power to run our industries. It's ridiculous we have to close down all the schools on the island because we do not have the capacity to heat them.
This power outage was not caused by bad weather patterns, but by a lack of power generation and very poor planning by NALCOR.
NALCOR, a Crown Corporation, dropped the ball.
This blackout proved one thing: Instead of NALCOR spending money to keep their generators in top working order, they were diverting all the money to the Muskrat Falls project in an effort to get it beyond the point of no return before the next election.
A project that the majority of our citizens are convinced we don't need. A project that our children and grandchildren will be paying dearly for the rest of their lives.