I am encouraged that there currently are conversations taking place regarding the possibility of private-sector partnership in this power project.
That wasn’t a consideration during the public consultations process when the vice-president of Nalcor, Mr. Gilbert Bennett, said that Nalcor wanted no private sector involvement in the project (I heard him say that during a question and answer session on the Burin Peninsula).
Unfortunately, he didn’t take into consideration the financial implications for our province (provincial government) and the limited number of taxpayers in our province, and the significant increase in Hydro bills that these taxpayers will eventually be responsible for.
In 2008, the previous provincial government became an equity owner in the Hebron project with a 4.9 percent stake. The province agreed to pay its share of the pre-production and construction costs associated with the project based on that equity.
My question is why can’t we have a similar equity agreement for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric power development?
The agreement should help ensure that we have the required number of megawatts for our province’s present and future needs.
There would be no requirement to mothball the project. Construction trades, the business community and other employees would remain employed and taxes will continue to flow to our provincial government.
Our province will own a share of the Maritime link at the end of the 35-year term and a share in any potential profits.
The private sector would sell the remaining megawatts, other than those owned by our province, to out-of-province customers and agree to pay their share of to date and future costs needed to complete the project.
Emera shouldn’t be concerned who owns the power development as long as the project is completed and prior agreements are adhered to.