Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams. Photo by Paul Palmeter/ CBC.
The Council of Canadians St. John’s chapter is calling the Muskrat Falls hydro-electric dam a boondoggle.
The Muskrat Falls hydro-electric dam project involves two large dams – a 32-metre high north dam and a 29-metre south dam – on the lower Churchill River in Labrador. The dams are being built on Innu and Inuit territory. Power from Muskrat Falls would be brought to Newfoundland and then to Nova Scotia via a sub-sea link. When the project was announced in 2010 it was forecast to cost $6.2 billion, that cost has now risen to $11.7 billion. Construction began in 2013 and about $6.7 billion has already been spent or contractually committed to the project. The first power from the project is expected in 2019, nearly two years later than scheduled.
Chapter activist Ken Kavanagh says, “At various stages of this entire fiscal and economic nightmare, various project characters, politicians and other pundits have been assigning blame either for certain aspects or for the whole of the project. For sure there is lots of blame to go around and, despite the definitive and mounting evidence, those who are culpable will never shoulder the responsibility for this boondoggle and there will never be any real accountability! [The first domino at the beginning of this whole story] was none other than former Premier Danny Williams.”
Kavanagh highlights, “Clearly, Williams was the architect, driver and champion of the Muskrat Falls project. His promises of this mega-project providing us with least-cost electricity rates, circumventing the Hydro Quebec stranglehold on hydro-development, and being a fiscal and economic game –changer, all ring hollow now.”
He then notes, “This boondoggle was predicted but no one was listening. Now that we have been gob-smacked by the reality of this project, public support for it is dwindling. The most recent Corporate Research Associates poll (released January 5/17) indicated that Muskrat Falls is now not supported by the majority of our citizens. Since then, we have had the news of the original [Italian contractor] Astaldi contract [to build the dam’s powerhouse, intake and spillway] increase of a whopping $700 million and the dire warnings of Ian Lee of the Sprott School of Business who suggest that the fiscal impact of Muskrat Falls will be so devastating, it will require a federal ‘bailout’! No doubt the next poll will see a steep nose dive in support.”
Kavanagh’s full commentary will be published in The Telegram this weekend.
For campaign blogs about the Muskrat Falls dam, please click here.