Monday, September 17, 2007


Newfoundland and Labrador energy vision/election document

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Energy Warehouse

This substantial inventory of energy sources makes this province an Energy
Warehouse. We have the ability to meet all of our own energy needs and still
provide significant energy for export to other jurisdictions where energy demand
also continues to grow.
Some of the resources – oil and gas – are finite and non-renewable: when they are
depleted, they cannot be replaced. Other resources, such as hydroelectricity from
the upper and lower Churchill River and our wind resources, are renewable – they
are elements of our Energy Warehouse that are continuously replenished. The
total of our developed clean, renewable electrical generation plus our identified
additional potential is 18,000 Megawatts (MW). Today, we require only 2,400
MW annually to meet our own electricity needs. In addition, our discovered
and potential oil and gas resources total over eight billion barrels of oil and 70
trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas. Untapped potential also exists in other
energy sources, such as wave and tidal energy, wood, peat, methane captured
from landfills and solar energy in some areas.
Where we are.
Energy Plan Discussion paper. (Much more informative when it comes to actual numbers and knowing what were dealing with. IE: Isolated Systems Consumption is only 0.2% of our electricity )

Where we want to go.
Energy Plan.

It took me a while to read through the new energy plan. Now I call it vision/election document because for all intensive purposes that is what it is at this time. That being said IMHO the guiding principles are good ones and the old adage "Fail to plan, plan to fail" still applies.

I think what people have missed in this whole exercise the enormity of potential we have in this province. That being said I don't think we could ever in a million years make full utilization of the entirety of our potential when it comes to energy in this province and that is just the low hanging fruit like the Upper and Lower churchill not to mention the potential of Gas to wire and wind in conjunction with Hydro as a reservoir or some of the more futuristic and less cost effective alternatives like tidal and the straits.

When god gives you apples you make apple sauce. In our case God has given us a harsh climate and terrain and that can be translated/formed made into power/energy.

I must say I really like the idea of transforming our non-renewable energy wealth into renewable energy income. It is a nice change to see a long term vision for a change in this province, and the target year of 2041 is a good time line and target to aim for.

Now for the naysayers.

First of all the political opportunists and Labrador separatists who say the development of the Lower Churchill and subsequent infeed power grid to other parts of the province isn't going to benefit the people who live adjacent to the resource.

Like I mentioned in the earlier paragraph you have to look at the source of some of these commentor's and their agendas. Liberals opposition party, pie in the sky dreamers with little or no knowledge of the variables and costs involved with these projects.

There was one glaring omission in the energy Prospectus IMHO that would have served to quell a lot of this dissent and negativity coming out of Labrador, and that was the already committed to 5% equity stake by current Prov Govt for the adjacent native communities to the development. (30,000 total in Labrador out of 500,000 in the province) Now this will be money on top of normal provincial funding for the region so if Labradorians are so upset with the fact that no new interconnected lines are included in the plan maybe they should plan to us that 5% to do what they are so upset about? I think that if they did the investigation necessaryt they will find they while it may be feasible it isn't cost effective at this time.

Now there could be other options and alternatives to connecting the few and far between communities with electricity not excluding Royalties for infrastructure, or planning to land Labrador gas to be converted to electricity and on to market, Small hydro if economically feasible, Wind or wind hydrogen if economically feasible etc etc. That being said maybe if everyone in the entire province was treated the same when it comes to the cost of electricity including raising Labrador's interconnected customers lowering isolated customers etc etc then maybe the two tiered rates wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately while we might have limited control over electricity rates if isolated communities were allowed to run amuck with their electricity because oil is more expensive in those communities that elsewhere everyone would switch over to electricity increasing the cost of producing electricity due to increased demand. It really is a conundrum that needs to be addressed in the long term because continuing on with isolated diesel is nothing more than a short term fix that is inhibitive to growth and prosperity.

There was also a time line in there that stated that all of the residents in Labrador would be paying the Labrador interconnected rate by 2011. Now for those of you who don't know about the power rates in Labrador there are two residential rates one for the interconnected customers which is in fact lower than the interconnected residents in the rest of the province and the isolated diesel customers who get subsidized for their first 700 kw's.

IMHO the real missed opportunity for connecting some of the isolated Labrador regions was the Voisey's bay fiasco. Voisey's bay and by extension Nain should have been connected to the interconnected grid either in partnership with the province or by INCO as a means of circumventing the equalization claw back by allowing INCO to pay royalties with a power line transport line instead. That being said hindsight is 20/20 and INCO has now installed 5 generators with a 6th in the planning stages.

All is not lost when it comes to INCO though because if as stated in the plan an infeed is to be put to the Island that should remove any force majeur that INCO could have about building a conventional smelter in the province. So this new demand of let's guess at 1000 MW plus the replacement of the 600MW from Holyrood puts us at 1600 out of a possible 2800MW from the Lower churchill leaving 1200MW for export or other provincial demand.

There may even be the possibility of running an interconnected line to Voisey's bay if the right agreements and arrangements could be talked about and investigated seeing as the recoverable reserves at Voisey's bay have now went from (20 years to 60 years?).

Another thing in our favor when it comes to Voisey's bay now is that INCO has been bought out by CVRD and they are a company that is known for applying the principles of adjacency and what with them not having any formal ties with central canada as a home base nothing is stopping them from applying those principles which they have become known for. Except maybe the national government and their principles to do what's in the best interest of the majority of canadians by default central canada. Like we have already seen where by the Feds made it a stipulation for the CVRD take over that all of the head office jobs stay in toronto?

Figure 2.1

As you can see from this map of the proposed transmission routes the big winners of all of this investment and converting non-renewable revenues into renewable revenues sources will be rural NL mainly Labrador and the west coast. What with a transmission line transversing the entire province by extension availing those areas to access to cheap low cost renewable energy.

Hopefully with time and future developments we will be able to produce more than enough energy to supply our own expanding demands and capitalize upon our exports to develop the over abundance of energy potential at our disposal.

The Quebec transmission route only has somewhere in the range of 1000MW excess capacity left on it's lines. The Lower Churchill has to potential to produce 2800MW. We have an immediate need for 600MW to replace Holyrood and a possible nother 1000MW or more for the Long harbour conventional smelter. So for all intensive purposes the power from the lower Churchill has already been allocated for distribution by the most effective and economical means keeping in mind adjacency and what's in the best interest of the province within the confines of economically feasible.

That is to say by building an infeed at 2 billion and financing the Lower Churchill at somewhere in the range of 5 Billion we are investing in ourselves for the long haul and converting non-renewable resource revenues into renewable resource revenues.

All in all I give the plan/vision an A. It still remains to be seen if it will develop as laid out and whether or not we can capitalize fully on our potential to convert non-renewable revenues into a renewable long term economy and society.

Like everything that is worthy of working for this may require a little short term pain to achieve our long term goals. I like to think of our Prov govt as a co-op that is managing our money and resources for our benefit and this plan/vision does exactly that by laying out the ground work and vision to convert our short term resources into a long term vision of a energy warehouse.

Since I called this an election document I guess I should comment on that.
Well if you read just the energy plan and haven't read the discussion paper previously then that would be exactly the impression one would come of with, but if you can look past the electioneering and refer back to the discussion paper and consider it an integral part of the energy plan as in being where we are and the energy plan where we want to go you will see alot of good in this plan.

Sorry about the poor layout and structure of this post but I just don't feel the need to impress anyone with my thoughts. It is more for my own organization and putting it into words than publishing.

Update: Something I originally intended to put into this post but forgot.

While there was a fair bit mentioned about being good environmental stewards I can't for the life of me recall any concrete initiatives or standards that will be implemented or enforced.

I would have liked to have seen all past present and future hydro dams have a fish ladder included. Not only would this be environmentally friendly and forward thinking as well as fixing some of the errors of the past it would provide opportunities for tourism fish ladder watching. Increased fish numbers especially for salmon who need that fresh water spawning grounds. In fact fish ladders could increase the spawning grounds to even more than they were before the dam was built because Like the Upper Churchill the head waters were in accessible prior to construction.

Another policy I would have liked to have seen would have been oil booms around all drill rigs the same as if they were in port.

As for the Labrador isolated diesel communities while it may be ECONOMICALLY unfeasible it really is hard to know when no numbers nor time lines were included or given to the people. But I regress once again the 5% equity should be more than enough to build the necessary infrastructure. I know a lot of rural Quebec has CO-OP transmission lines. Not sure if the 2500 people who live in Nain and environs could organize themselves enough to pull of something like that even if they had the money.

IE: the indigenous people were recently given a lump sum for something or other and they decided to divide it up and hand it out to individuals instead of for the benefit of all with something like a transmission line.

Another thing that would need to be planned for and encouraged would be conversion from oil heat to electric heat. Preferably Geothermal. A long term plan of conversion with incentives would make the cost more cost effective I would think keeping in mind oil and gas cost more in remote communities FILO, LIFO catch 22 pricing. First in Last out, Last in First out generally 20-40 cents more than the next lowest price.

I've heard some numbers being thrown around like 100-300 million to build a transmission line along the north coast. That would be supplying somewhere in the range of 25 communities currently on diesel electric along with Voisey's bay and any new industrial developments that could be foreseen like the Uranium deposit in Mud lakes Postville.

I must say I am optimistic that coastal Labrador will get connected to the interconnected system especially when I hear numbers like 1000 million that can't be that cost prohibitive. I'm sure 5% equity would more than pay for something like that.

I am also very optimistic that fish ladders will be included in all past present and future hydro projects if what the Energy vision is worth the paper it is written on. Especially when you consider Mr Williams is an avid promoter of the salmon fishery and has made such extraordinary steps and increasing the number of provincial officers when it is supposedly a Federal responsibility.

Include Lime dosers in all new hydro damming projects to offset the increase in mineral and toxic materials from the leaching of flooded lands.

I also for got to mention the proposed oil refinery and LHG terminal that would be another use for the proposed infeed.

HVGB is also on gas turbine diesel generation and with the new infeed would be 40 km from the new line. HVGB currently uses 50MW and with a connection from the new infeed could mothball the Gas turbine and make HVGB a economic commercial and cultural hub for the big land. Maybe even dredge lake melville and make it a sea port.
Very well said ex-pat.
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