I am a little disconnected up here in Ontario but I did receive over a dozen requests yesterday for comment on the NB Power saga.
I have scanned the media and read the releases and I guess we have to take at face value what Jean Charest said on the national news last night that the last minute negotiations could not be concluded in a way that both parties would agree. On the face of it, public pressure in New Brunswick wasn’t the reason for the scrapping of the deal.
But I have to wonder about this. We all saw the polls and the absolute hammering. I said it before and I’ll say it again that New Brunswickers are small c conservative people and slow to wrath but once aggrieved we can be as nasty as anyone. We are the only province in Canada where Superstore had to scrap their five cent charge on plastic bags because of this type of backlash.
The original reportage (and the way the thing was launched) was so negative that this idea was entrenched in the minds of the average NBer and wasn’t to be dislodged. In my conversations with very smart people, they would say outrageous things about this deal.
Anyway, on we go. Expect rates to continue to grow well above most areas in Canada and eventually, expect most of our power to come from Quebec anyway at much higher rates and with our debt load intact.
I would be surprised if they refurbish any of the old generation assets as they come up for major refurbishment. As for Colson Cove, Belledune, et al who knows? If oil goes back up to $150, if the carbon cap/trade comes online, expect rates to skyrocket.
Don’t expect New Brunswick to go into wind energy in a big way. Wind energy will always be on the margin in Canada. Dont’ get me wrong, there will be wind energy in New Brunswick but it will never be more than 5%-10% of the demand – in my opinion. Until the cost per kwh comes radically down, wind and solar and tidal are too expense for more than just boutique needs.
The outstanding problem is our large industrial users. As I said before many of these firms have had their profit margins wiped out by energy costs and the high cost of the dollar – two things out of their control. I hope there are innovative solutions to this problem because if more industrial clients fall (and their above average economic value and wages), it will do serious damage to New Brunswick.
Maybe it’s time to look at using our own natural gas for electricity production. Maybe there are other alternatives.
Some have called this a great day for democracy. Maybe. But you could just as easily look at it and say it is the death knell for any large, grand public policy moves by a government in New Brunswick. Politicians have got the message that New Brunswickers will never accept these transformational moves.
You can forget about the Finn Report. What government – Liberal or Tory – will want to tackle that very important issue? The media will hammer. The opposition will stir up anger and we will be right back in the stew.