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Citizens’ coalition says PUB reference not good enough

From left: Ron Penney, Des Sullivan and David Vardy. — file photos
From left: Ron Penney, Des Sullivan and David Vardy. — file photos - SaltWire Network

Group calls on premier, minister to tackle policy, legislative changes

An organization representing concerned citizens in the Muskrat Falls Inquiry has taken a stand against the Liberal government’s special reference to the province’s Public Utilities Board (PUB), meant to help address future energy costs.

Leaders of the Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens’ Coalition include Ron Penney, Des Sullivan and David Vardy, and the group has issued a statement today calling for Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady to reconsider their PUB review.

The review is too limited, the coalition suggests, and comes without addressing energy-related government policy and legislation, restricting the process and potential options on the table.

The coalition wrote the premier on Sept. 4 with a recommendation to bring in the PUB with a special reference under the Electrical Power Control Act, to investigate rate options and best practices. But the details announced by Ball and Coady this week are “a far cry” from what was suggested by the coalition, according to the statement.

The review is too limited, the coalition suggests, and comes without addressing energy-related government policy and legislation, restricting the process and potential options on the table.

“The premier did accept our proposal for a reference to the PUB but did not give the Board the mandate which we saw as necessary,” it states.

“It does not resolve the uncertainty surrounding rates nor does it discourage unnecessary investments in alternatives to electric baseboard heating such as heat pumps. Our problem is not so much with what is included in the mandate for the PUB reference but rather with what is left out,” it reads.

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The PUB review as announced has received mixed reviews. Consumer Advocate Dennis Browne, for example, told The Telegram the design of a new and effective approach to power rates is possible under what has been proposed, assuming additional policy and legislative changes during or after the process.

The Liberals have said the PUB review — including a look at some of Nalcor Energy’s electrical businesses beyond the regulated Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro — should not be expected to find a complete solution to how to pay for Muskrat Falls. The government has yet to reveal its full rate mitigation plans.  

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