I don’t want to become an Albertan: local union rep

Last month, I wrote about the move to shift power rate increases from residences to industrial users.

Now, I am reading about business leaders, industry associations and even unions decrying this move. One union rep said he ‘didn’t want to become an Albertan’ – a not so subtle reference to what would happen when the forestry industry collapses.

Ain’t economic development neat? Announce a $250 million bailout for the forestry sector in December and what will ultimately amount to $500 million or more in increased energy costs (over five years).

That’s the same logic that was used when they cut personal tax rates by a bit and then increased gas taxes such that the net for the average NBer was about nil.

Always the pragmatic, I continue to say: what’s next? Mismanagement at NB Power (or bad luck) has led to the fastest increases in power rates in Canada. Low industrial rates were held up by the McKenna government as a benefit for businesses to set up shop here. Now that’s gone. This will impact both existing business and our ability to attract more.

So, what’s next? Now we will have to turn our attention to industries that don’t need cheap power.

We face the real possibility of an even increased out-migration over the next 5-10 years unless we get serious about the economy. Don’t forget that we have had 14 straight years of out-migration already.

Maybe when the new PM gets over the flu, he’ll swoop down and save us 🙂

Not likely.

But before I go, I’ll give you the good news. Michelin just announced a $92 million expansion of its Waterville plant in Nova Scotia. Crossley Carpets justed finished a 150 person expansion at their Truro manufacturing plant. An article in Today’s Trucking this month is reporting that the Port of Halifax is poised for a major breakthrough.

But never fear. We have the Prosperity Plan which will bring riches for all.

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0 Responses to I don’t want to become an Albertan: local union rep

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was just wondering what you consider to be ‘NBPower Mismanagement’? I’m not trying to create an argument, I seriously don’t know. Trying to switch to orimulsion was clearly a tactical error, and they certainly seem to be hiding something, although it seems that what they are trying to hide is the governments involvement in it.

    As for energy, I’ve been doing some digging, and CLEARLY this is a case where industrialists should be simply run out of town on a rail. You can look here at the graphs on energy use in the maritimes:
    http://www.dec.ctu.edu.vn/cdrom/cd6/projects/state_of_environment_atlantic/ch6-61.html

    Residential use of power has remained constant for over twenty years, while the largest increase by far is transportation, again reflecting the massive increase in industrial usage. Now, if somebody were to point out to me the places which use the MOST power, like pulp mills, processing plants, etc., and make the argument that those places are employing more people, then I’d be satisfied that New Brunswickers are at least subsidizing job creation.

    I suspect that is far from the case. Those places using the most energy are places that have been dropping workers like flies. Technology has made it so that most of these plants run with minimal work, they call it a ‘refit’, like we’re going to see in Nackawic when they get all new equipment which uses few workers.

    Clearly industry should be made to pay FAR more than they currently are. The jobs argument isn’t quite as scary now because we know how few people these guys actually employ.

    Something else to consider is that the province still exports massive amounts of power. The argument that hasn’t taken place is:

    how much should be sold, and how much should be available to New Brunswickers? Venezuela has the cheapest gas on the planet for its citizens, why is New Brunswick among the highest?

  2. David Campbell says:

    Fair points. All of them. But increasing industrial power rates is bound to ultimately cost us jobs. If we all can live with that, then fine. As for NB Power mismanagement, I don’t claim to be an expert. But I will say that Orimulsion was not the finest hour for the utility. And I will also say that exporting power doesn’t seem to me to be a great economic development driver. See my blog on energy that I will be writing now.