Friday, October 30, 2009

Environmentalists and Irving Oil on the Same Page?

Came across this story on the CBC:

NB Power sale gets environmentalists' support

Environmentalists are applauding the potential closure of the Coleson Cove Generating Station as a likely outcome of the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro-Québec.

Under the proposed agreement, Hydro-Québec would purchase a majority of NB Power's assets for $4.8 billion, which would erase the public utility's debt.

Click here to read more.

Irvings favour the sale of NB Power because of lower industrial power rates, but interesting to see environmentalists onside as well. Closing Coleson Cove will be good for the environment... but a lot of people will be out of work and overall New Brunswick will lose its energy sovereignty.

It's also not often that environmentalists agree with Shawn Graham on something...

P.S. Danny Williams is not too happy about the sale, as Hydro Quebec is likely to block and/or obstruct Newfoundland power sales to the United States via New Brunswick; below, Premiers Shawn Graham and Danny Williams engage in a staring contest, who will win?


  1. It is surprising to see environmentalists and the Irvings on the same side.

    I don't agree with the sale on the grounds that whatever short-term cost savings and short-term fixes this may bring for New Brunswick, it is a long term problem as North America's largest energy company just got a little bigger. A bigger company that has a worse environmental record and a bigger company that is far less inclined to be held accountable locally for their actions.

    The prospect of closing Coleson Cove (mind you no guarantee) would be nice from an environmental view, but as Hassan points out there is a huge local cost. Consider also that the new owner has a much worse environmental record. Is it really a gain? Or will it be getting rid of one problem and creating several others with a new owner.

    Worse yet, Hydro-Québec is involved in the deadly and environmentally messy Three Gorges Dam project in China. That was never a concern with NB Power being locally owned.

    Yes. NB Power has been sold and their is a prospect to close Coleson Cove. But at what price? A price to high in my opinion.

  2. Thanks for your comment Rob, you are right, the long-term costs of this sale far outweigh any short-term benefits (either economically or environmentally).

  3. This is such an interesting development because, like an onion, it has layer after layer that you can peel off and examine.

    Two points that haven't been raised yet:
    1) The NB Power administration has been flat out incompetent for years. The orimulsion deal is probably the most obvious example, but the the list is long and troubling. Hydro Quebec, whatever else you think of them, is comparatively competent. Following the ice storm, for example, they installed state of the art software to manage supply on their distribution lines. As a result, when there was the big east coast power outage that took out much of Ontario and the northeast US, the blackout didn't spread into Quebec.

    2) The big loss for NB, from my perspective, is the transfer of control over the distribution lines and the control over energy flow that implies. But, while it is easy to look at a map and say NB occupies a strategic location and should retain control to exploit that advantage, in a post-Enron world (that is, following the collapse of a corporate model based on controlling energy distribution and the subsequent move away from deregulating energy by policymakers), it is really hard to know what that advantage is worth.

    Finally, while Hydro Quebec is certainly involved in projects that have gained more public attention and opposition than have those of NB Power, from the point of view of carbon emissions they are a much more environmentally friendly company than NB Power.

  4. What if Irvings decide to re-launch the second refinery because of the power-rate savings? There are rumblings of that happening. If this is so; than any conservation gains could be largely negated.

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