What amazes me is that smart people such as Janice Harvey would quote something like this in her column this morning. She is talking about that unbiased Maine consultant hired by AIMS (who states right in his report about the risk to Maine – some unbias):
Weil writes, “The claim is made that the deal will be worth $10 billion to New Brunswick… based on the combination of a cash payment and lower rates. The cash payment portion of the deal will remain uncertain for some time [due to the Lepreau wild card: “The risk for New Brunswick is that Lepreau does not again enter into service”]. As for the rate relief portion, estimated to provide more than half the value, the benefits would only be derived over a period well in excess of 30 years and then only if certain assumptions work as forecast.”
Harvey knows as well as I do that the “Lepreau wild card” exists whether NB Power is sold or not! It is a weird slight of hand to pretend that there is some great risk associated with Lepreau if NB Power is sold and not if it is not sold. The risk stands both ways.
As for the rate benefit – it is obvious that the benefits after five years can only be forecasted based on certain assumptions. Weil’s point is rhetorical and Harvey makes it the basis of her criticism of the deal. Hmmm.
The truth of the matter is this. I have talked now with six different Tories in the past week and the new plan seems to be fight the deal, breath a sigh of relief when it passes in March, get elected because you opposed it and take the benefits over the next five years at least. There hasn’t been a government since Robichaud that hasn’t been plagued by NB Power – Hatfield’s original Lepreau project was three times over budget. McKenna nearly crippled NB Power with Belledune. NB Coal has been kept alive costing the province millions to prop up a few jobs. Orimulsion was an enormous fiasco.
David Alward could stand to be the Premier of the only province where industrial electricity rates were cut 28% and residential rates were frozen for five years. He will take all the benefit and none of the populist fallout. Genius. It takes NB Power out of the spotlight.
Of course, the Lepreau refurb is only scheduled to finish early in the next term…… A slight hiccup to my analysis.