Lorraine Michael Question Period (12.05.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL:Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Emera has announced they will sanction the Maritime Link without waiting for a URB review, knowing they can walk away later for a $60 million fine if the Utility's decision is negative and the deal sours. The ratepayers of this Province have no such remedy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: How can she sanction a project that lays all this considerable risk squarely on the backs of the ratepayers of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

You see what happens when you read a document; you recognize then that it is sanction that is the key issue. Mr. Speaker, we have been assured by the people at Emera that they did not say they were going to walk away from the project. What the people at Emera said in that interview was that they are fully committed to the project, Mr. Speaker.

From our concern and what the concern of the Opposition Parties was the other day, how could we sanction without the loan guarantee? They have admitted on the other side apparently today that the loan guarantee comes with sanction, Mr. Speaker. It is sanction that is the key to this project for us, because we are suiting our own power needs and the needs – contrary to what the member opposite is saying – of industrial development in Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

The minister knows that contrary to here, the URB will make the final decision in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the loan guarantee notes –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: – that government must show it has the money Nalcor will need to build the Muskrat Falls plant and transmission lines with or without Emera building a Maritime Link. In other words, government must have a Plan B if at any time Emera chooses to walk away.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Will she allow the people of the Province to see her Plan B?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, but we have never had to talk about anything except Plan A.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Plan A, Mr. Speaker, because Plan A is in the best interests of the people of this Province. It has been drawn up by our experts, our own experts – experts we are so proud of on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker – at Nalcor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: It has been validated, Mr. Speaker, by authority after authority after authority, and that final validation came from the federal government of Canada, who are underwriting a $6.3 billion project, Mr. Speaker, and the Prime Minister says: at no risk to the people of Canada. That is good (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has signed a document which stipulates she must remove the regulatory agency which protects this Province's ratepayers, effectively locking the ratepayers for decades to Muskrat Falls power regardless of the cost. She will also remove any regulatory protection ratepayers now enjoy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: With no firm markets for the excess power, inevitable cost overruns –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: – and without protection from the PUB, how could she have made such a drastic commitment on behalf of the people of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the government has vision.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the government has hope for Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the government has a plan for Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Part of that plan is providing for the energy needs not only of ratepayers here on the Island, Mr. Speaker, but for industrial development in Labrador.

Across the way you hear managers of decline – no vision, no hope, no plan, Mr. Speaker. Squarely the people of this Province have said they do not want that; they fully endorse the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and their energy development plan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Natural Resources said government will remove the Public Utilities Board from setting rates for the hydro project. This will make Nalcor a law unto itself.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: How could she make such an irresponsible and undemocratic decision to leave the Province's ratepayers unprotected?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am not placing the fortunes of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador into some foreign entity over which we have no control. Nalcor is owned by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They work for us; Nalcor works for us, and let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that Nalcor is a regulated company and they have a regulated rate of return set by the PUB. Everything they earn beyond that regulated rate of return either gets reinvested on behalf of the people or returned to the government of the people. You see, Mr. Speaker, this is some of the challenge, because even the basics of how energy is managed here in this Province are not well understood by the people opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we learned yesterday that Nalcor was buying equipment and infrastructure from one subsidiary of Manitoba Hydro while contracting another to review the project for which these services were intended.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Natural Resources: How much have they paid to Manitoba Hydro for the material they purchased for the Muskrat Falls Project?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not aware of the amount right off, Mr. Speaker, but I certainly will find that. As I indicated yesterday, the temporary accommodations are needed to continue construction. There are approximately temporary accommodations for 250 people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Someone took it from me, actually.

Mr. Speaker, 250 people – and what we are doing now, we will build a permanent camp for 2,000 people, which will be started construction in the spring. That paper probably does have the answer on it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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