Thursday, 23 November 2017

JUDGE LEBLANC NEEDS CHANGES IN INQUIRY MANDATE TO DO A PROPER JOB

Guest Post by Cabot Martin
WHY WORDS REALLY MATTER – The need to amend the Muskrat Falls Inquiry Terms of Reference
Way back in the 1980’s when I was hanging out in the Premier’s Office on the 8th floor of the Confederation Building as Senior Policy Advisor to the Premier, I noted that there was one group that everyone respected – the Legislative Drafters.

As politicians with policy to implement, the Cabinet (with the help of the Cabinet Secretariat) would draft, debate, amend and finalize what they thought the proposed new Act or Regulation should do and contain.

As a next step, the measure was put into the hands of the Legislative Drafters, as specialized a group of legally trained professionals as you will find.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

JAMES MCLEOD IS LEAVING. TIME TO LAY BLAME.

I had never thought James McLeod to be one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In last Saturday’s Telegram, he telegraphed just that. 

In mortal terror, he’s leaving the province. And I know I’m the one responsible.
McLeod had interviewed Uncle Gnarley for a story in September that he called “Meet Uncle Gnarley: Muskrat Falls’ prolific doomsayer blogs in turbulent times”.  I had no idea that, after just a few hours with him, McLeod would want to ‘cut and run’ — hightail it — for the mainland!
Already wearing his unemployment boots and heading for the Marine Atlantic Ferry, he left this advice:
“Here’s the honest truth: It’s in the economic self-interest of every man, woman and child in this province to do the same thing I’m doing: pack up and move literally anywhere else. The province has a demographic problem and a geographic problem. There are too many old people…

Monday, 20 November 2017

LOW RESERVOIRS POSE GREATEST OUTAGE RISK SINCE DARKNL

Guest Post Written By PlanetNL


PlanetNL5: Low Reservoirs Will Strain Thermal Generation This Winter
Uncle Gnarley suggested readers be given a respite from the gloomy Muskrat analysis series and instead asked PlanetNL to provide a critique on a different energy concern: the impact of low reservoir levels on this winter’s energy supply needs, as just revealed in a recent NL Hydro report.

The first concern is the cost of unplanned high fuel consumption at Holyrood and the standby combustion turbines over the winter and possibly well into 2018, a cost that NL Hydro is certain to want to recover through rate adjustments.  A considerable pre-Muskrat rate hike will result. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

BARD OF PYNN'S BROOK TACKLES "MR. BIG"

MR BIG

By John Tuach

“Develop or Perish!” - Smallwood.

A former ‘Main Man’ steering ship?
The files will have a familiar flip:
Churchill River hydro mill -
Cash for Provincial coffers fill!

Offshore oil, mines, forestry,
Energy, and fish - all travesty!
Industrial avarice in major plays,
Who abets the give-aways?

Power to run the metal mines,
Windmill spins atop the Barrens,
Making pellets - a money burn,
Old projects, each in turn.

An alternate agenda is a toot:
Prolong the Muskrat money loot
To obfuscate some other theft -
And perished public more bereft.

And some suggest conspiracy:
Plunder planned (a resource spree?)
A Nalcor asset fire-sale feast
When entrails stirred of Muskrat beast.

Did ‘Canada’ steer the scam?
To issue bonds to build the dam,
To grab a slab of finance loot,
Perchance a numbers game afoot.

Is there ‘The Man’ for subterfuges?
(The latter crowds only stooges).
That sat around at Federal tables,
Investment lucre now enables.

Media manipulator extraordinaire,
To move and shake the political air.
Knows the people (to burn) too green -
A puppet-master behind the scene?

October 30, 2017


Thursday, 16 November 2017

OSBORNE: NO PRICE TOO HIGH FOR POLITICAL PEACE

Mercifully, Finance Minister Tom Osborne kept the Budget Update short. It won’t get much ink here, either.
Osborne has confirmed what most people seem to have concluded: he has no intention of tackling the deficit.
The former Finance Minister, Cathy Bennett, told a reporter that “I wish we had had better information going into the election campaign,” seemingly ignorant of the fact that, as an MHA, she was always expected to read — and to understand — the Budget Estimates. Of course, her search was for a scapegoat. Osborne, not four months into the job, hopes he has found one too. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

CHERNOBYL-LITE: THE PRICE OF DENYING MUSKRAT ECONOMICS

Guest Post by PlanetNL


PlanetNL.4 - Mothball Muskrat Now
Previous PlanetNL instalments have detailed how the uneconomic Muskrat project threatens to destroy NL Hydro and ratepayers or, if the subsidy route is chosen, Government and taxpayers.  The painful third alternative is to choose to stop the project and have the Premier call on Ottawa to act fully and promptly on the murky Federal Loan Guarantees of $7.9B.

Even with the federally guaranteed debt removed, serious issues remain.  Ratepayers still face large rate increases and the Provincial Government must record a total loss of equity. Emera would suffer contractual losses and demand compensation.  Ottawa would be divided on whether to act as many other provinces will not support the bailout.  A substantial and raucous debate is sure to erupt whenever Ottawa publicly considers this request.

…………………….

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

COADY MISINFORMED. SECOND SOURCE CONFIRMS FAULTY TOWERS

The Uncle Gnarley Blog stands by the source who provided information regarding the welding defects Nalcor has encountered on the Labrador-Island Transmission Link (LIL).

The existence of the defects has now been confirmed by a second source.
The blog post entitled Faulty Towers: Nalcor's Comedy (Of Errors),  published on Monday, reported that the problem is associated with the welds on a component part located at the base of each tower.

Monday, 6 November 2017

FAULTY TOWERS: A NALCOR COMEDY (OF ERRORS)

Newfoundland would have provided the perfect setting for the British TV Comedy series “Fawlty Towers”. Here, John Cleese would have had no need for inventive double entendres. And the laughs could have been on Nalcor’s dime.

According to an Uncle Gnarley Blog source, Nalcor is grappling with a new problem. And it is no laughing matter. As you might have guessed, the issue revolves around faulty towers.
Nalcor has discovered structural defects in an undetermined number of the towers on the 1100 km Labrador-Island Link (LIL). That’s the extension cord intended to deliver Upper Churchill recall power next year and, subsequently, power from the Muskrat Falls project.
According to the source, the structural integrity of a selection of 30 towers was tested recently. The tests produced a failure rate of 100%.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

IS MUSKRAT FALLS A PONZI SCHEME?

Guest Post by David Vardy

There are remarkable similarities between the business model for Muskrat Falls and a Ponzi scheme, credited to Charles Ponzi, who instigated the first Ponzi scheme in 1919. 

Bernard Madoff was one of many who built upon the original Ponzi concept. Madoff met his Waterloo in March  2009, when he pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies, including securities fraudwire fraudmail fraudmoney launderingmaking false statementsperjury, theft from an employee benefit plan, and making false filings with the SEC. Will Muskrat Falls lead to such a wide range of criminal charges after the Commission of Inquiry has concluded?

The business model for Muskrat Falls is built upon fictitious energy sales which created unearned revenues. Electricity consumers were conscripted to participate in these fictitious sales through amendments to the Electrical Power Control Act which conferred monopoly power upon Nalcor, so that all large consumers of power were required to buy power generated at Muskrat Falls.

Monday, 30 October 2017

IS NALCOR OK WITH THIRD WORLD HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES?

What was Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) doing at the fly ash plant in Goose Bay two weeks ago? Did the Inspector order it closed, as a local source — a former worker — reports?

According to the source, the plant was ordered closed but was back in operation again within a day or two. 
The plant is the sole supplier of fly ash to the Muskrat Falls project. The operation is housed in an old hangar near the Goose Bay Airport. The building is reportedly in poor condition and, according to the former worker, unsuitable for its current use given the toxic nature of fly ash. 
Fly ash is used in conjunction with (or as a partial replacement for) Portland cement to improve a particular property of concrete (e.g. to slow hardening) or to restrict a specific chemical reaction.  It is a by-product of pulverized coal and this source believes that, based upon product data sheets, the ash contains a high percentage of silica.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

HAS THE A-G SPOKEN TRUTH TO POWER?

Guest Post by David Vardy

Introduction
Terry Paddon, the province’s Auditor General will be stepping down at the end of the month. His swan song was the recent release of his annual report to the House of Assembly, on the Audit of the Financial Statements of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, for the year ended March 31, 2017. 

In light of the parlous fiscal state of the Province one has to ask if he told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? 

Did he speak truth to power in a language that both citizens and their elected representatives can understand? In particular, how did he deal with the Muskrat Falls project? 

Monday, 23 October 2017

PREMIER SHOULD TELL BEOTHUCK ENERGY TO GO ‘FLY A KITE’

If you live in Newfoundland, you know all about wind.  There’s the natural kind… and then there’s the wind that keeps carpetbaggers aloft until the easy money disappears.

“If you got the juice we got the use,” Kathy Dunderdale was fond of quoting the New England Governors, the cost of producing the power never entering the equation. 
"Even if we produce everything we have here at Muskrat Falls and Gull Island, we still wouldn't fit all the energy demands south of the border," the CBC quoted Kirby Mercer in a story posted back in June. 
Mercer is the spokesperson for Beothuck Energy’s proposed wind power project in St. George’s Bay.
Like Dunderdale, economics seems not to matter to him either. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

FINANCE DEPT. FRUSTRATED BY NALCOR'S FAILED HEDGES

Not surprisingly when politicians and public servants screw up, and their error is exposed, the excuse register gets pretty crowded. That was the case when this Blog revealed that Nalcor lost $66.9 million on a hedging scheme in which it speculated on $1.82 billion of the most recent $2.9 billion Federal Loan Guarantee - funding for the Muskrat Falls project.

On NTV, August 21, 2017 CEO Stan Marshall defended the loss - suggesting nothing would have been said had it been a win. 

Of course, Marshall was mute about Nalcor's expertise in this complex and risky field. He did not mention if he had given any guidelines (limitations) to his officials - now speculators with the public purse.

Nor did he comment on whether those decisions are given over to some investment advisor with no skin in the game. And he offered no data as to the frequency of the Corporation's hedges. And, which would have been nice, he didn't confirm if – over time - wins/losses had evened out.

Certainly, there was no mention of Nalcor’s $14.1 million loss (including fees) reported in its December 31, 2013 Financial Statement . The losses were recorded on nine hedge contracts worth $2 billion entered into between December 3-6, 2013. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

VARDY TELLS B.C. "SITE C" INQUIRY NOT TO REPEAT MUSKRAT FOLLY

Editor's Note: When David Vardy released the essay entitled Making Best Use of the Lower Churchill: The Muskrat Falls Development, which he had prepared as a brief for the Action Canada Fellowship in 2011, it constituted the first sceptical appraisal of the many claims of the Williams Administration regarding the project.

It took six more years before then Fortis CEO and current Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall got around to describing the project as a “boondoggle”. But Vardy was there, at the starting gate, absent any but the public interest, to warn of that likely outcome and to replace hyperbole and falsity, often issued under the guise of patriotism, with objective analysis.

It can rightly be said that Vardy not just wrote the primer on the Muskrat Falls project; he was the "first responder" sounding the alarm, demanding notice of Muskrat as ill-considered, possibly injurious, public policy.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

MUSKRAT SUBSIDIES WILL CAUSE A GOV'T DEBT SPIRAL

Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL3: New Nalcor PPA Information Confirms Massive Revenue Problems

In PlanetNL2, Nalcor’s 50-year Dividends forecast was assessed along with the assumed costs of the 50-year Muskrat Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).  At the time, a revised Nalcor PPA cost forecast was not available, therefore some general guesstimates were made in the absence of specific numbers.  The preliminary analysis predicted huge subsidy requirements from Government to mitigate Nalcor losses and bankruptcy.

On October 3, 2017 Nalcor responded to a citizen’s Request For Information to issue the up-to-date forecast of PPA costs.  A full analysis is presented here using Nalcor’s own exact PPA and Dividend numbers, in combination with the Premier’s expressed 17 c/KWh rate cap, and the PlanetNL prediction that energy sales will fall by 30%.  The results are indeed as frightful as feared: Government debt is going to rapidly mount and crush program spending.
.….

Monday, 9 October 2017

PUBLIC INQUIRY NEEDS BROAD MANDATE SAYS VARDY

Guest Post by David Vardy

Framing the Mandate for a Commission of Inquiry
Premier Ball has announced that an Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project will begin soon, perhaps before Christmas. Before celebrating this announcement we need to know that the Inquiry will have a broad scope, as well as the necessary resources to do the job.
The Commissioners must have a wide range of expertise, including experience in managing major projects, as well as expertise in energy policy, project engineering and public utility regulation. The panel should include people who operate at an international level as well as Commissioners who understand the environment in which we operate. This mission calls for a broad set of skills and requires more than one  single Commissioner.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

WILL PREMIER ASSUAGE ONE PERSON'S WORRIES ABOUT PUBLIC INQUIRY?

The Premier’s announcement that he will reverse course and call a public inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project has attracted much comment on this Blog and in other forums. The public’s worst fear is that the inquiry will accomplish little and result in another waste of money. 
Scepticism abounds that government will restrict the inquiry’s mandate. 
Nalcor meddling is an undercurrent of the debate. Another is that the government will placate the many politicians and restrict the inquiry from having them testify and face examination.
Only the Premier can quell those fears with announcement of the broadest possible inquiry mandate.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

INQUIRY NEEDS ENGINEERING CAPABILITY TO UNCLOAK "BIG SCHEME COMPRISING MANY SMALLER SCHEMES"

Guest Post by Cabot Martin
My recent Uncle Gnarley posts have dealt with Emera and Civil Deceit (May 15)
and the risk of catastrophic failure of the hillside above the North Spur (September 28)
They are all connected; all part of the grand scheme.
That September 28th post more or less described the time bomb that Nalcor has constructed at the North Spur.
Today I’d like to go back to look at some of the design steps that got them there.
For background, the keeners amongst you can check out a long but well illustrated powerpoint on the North Spur issue on my muskratinfowebsite – 
Please restrain yourself until you are through reading this present much shorter Uncle Gnarley piece. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

NALCOR MEDDLING A THREAT TO MUSKRAT INQUIRY

If this were a different time, we would wonder why the Premier chose a Liberal Party fundraiser to announce that he will now call a Judicial Inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project - the very people the $12.7 billion "boondoggle" will least affect.

If this were a different time, we would wonder why he chose to disclose one of the most important initiatives of his Administration to this group of peddlers, contractors and compradors that hung on Danny Williams’ coattails. 
If this were a different time, we might ask the Premier to share his moment of conversion and what inspired him to do an about face.  
However, while those things niggle at our sensibilities, none constitutes the real issue. The larger object of our focus, now, must be getting the right inquiry.   

Thursday, 28 September 2017

NALCOR AND CONSULTANTS FACE LIABILITY IF NORTH SPUR FAILS

Guest Post by Cabot Martin
My last post on the Uncle Gnarley Blog - entitled Premier Needs Quebec Judge's Help On Forensic Audit - was about possible criminal activity on the Muskrat project and the need for a forensic audit.
The previous piece I authored - back in May - was called Of Deceit, Emera and Muskrat Madness. It described a possible action of civil deceit against Emera with respect to their very burdensome Muskrat contracts with Nalcor.
Both very important issues. 
But as my good friend Con O’Brien is quick to point out, over-riding all is the North Spur.
Muskrat must be halted for that reason alone – Now.
But that issue sometimes (all the time?) gets lost in the Muskrat shuffle.
So let’s go through it yet one more time.

Monday, 25 September 2017

SOCIAL PROGRAMS TO BE CRUSHED BY MUSKRAT SUBSIDIES

Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL2 – Muskrat Will Cause Monumental Government Debt and Social Pressure
In last week’s inaugural PlanetNL, the post-Muskrat rate hike was predicted to rise quickly into the 30-35 c/kWh range and then to continue to spiral upward as the market continually fails to deliver required revenue.  This pricing model should be considered theoretical because it’s too insane to think the Government would actually allow rate runaway to happen and not attempt to intervene with a better alternative that can preserve stability of the market and the survival of the utilities that serve it.

Logically, Government must limit rates to some sustainable level that ratepayers can bear.  They must also not allow the bankruptcy of NL Hydro and the Nalcor companies as this would lead to the evisceration of core Government assets to outside interests.

Government has little choice but to lean heavily on the public purse of the taxpayer to make up the shortfall in utility revenue.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

IN PICTURES: NALCOR DUMPS MILLIONS

Nalcor’s lack of quality control on the Muskrat Falls project failed to detect a faulty transmission cable, containing a "popped" wire, which was strung — with the defect — on a large section of the Labrador Island Link.


CBC reported the issue in June 2016. Flabbergasted by what he had read, James L. Gordon, the Canadian engineer who has written repeatedly on the Uncle Gnarley Blog, contacted renowned transmission line designer J.P. Schell, P. Eng. (Ret’d) and asked him to examine the issue. Mr. Schell wrote a piece entitled Design Engineer Baffled By Extent of Muskrat TL Flaw Reported by CBC for this Blog.
The transmission cable (170 km X 2 lines = 340 km of D.C. conductor wire) was spun at the factory, shipped, stored and erected before anyone at Nalcor noticed — testimony to a management ill-equipped for the roles they fill.

Monday, 18 September 2017

MUSKRAT WILL DESTROY UTILITY SYSTEM IN 2020

Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL1: Like a Hurricane - Muskrat To Destroy Utility System in 2020

This guest blog series is offered to demonstrate the true value of Muskrat Falls (aka Lower Churchill Project) and to expose the risks and burdens imposed by it on Newfoundland ratepayers and taxpayers.  The view will be predominantly forward looking, relying on best available project and market information to deliver plain economic analysis that can be appreciated by a wide range of people.  There will be little ranting as the dire economic concerns will speak for themselves. 

First up is a deeper exploration of consumer billing rates than Nalcor and Government have been providing.  The Nalcor rate projection has consistently gone up as the Muskrat project has advanced with cost overruns, yet it seems they have not given all the facts.  They already have a prediction of more than doubling rates after the project is commissioned in 2020 but PlanetNL projects that rates will actually shoot much higher.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

PREMIER NEEDS QUEBEC JUDGE'S HELP ON FORENSIC AUDIT

GUEST POST WRITTEN BY CABOT MARTIN

So is the Muskrat fat finally in the fire?
Premier Ball’s nostrils are definitely offended by the stink from Muskrat Falls but it’s Nalcor’s method of paying it’s top end workers that seems to be the immediate cause.

We’ll have an inquiry into Muskrat, he says, and it will even start before the site is deserted. We are working on the Terms of Reference, he says, 
... and this employment contract mess will be included and, of course, we cannot delay the project.
Opps!

A curious turn of logic. Big problem – long finger.
Premier – you are on the mark with the need for a Public Inquiry but you need a road map to get there.

Monday, 11 September 2017

RCMP MUST ACCOUNT FOR FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE NALCOR

The poorly conceived August 31, 2017 EY Report on the Muskrat Falls project was essentially irrelevant, albeit with one major exception. 

EY stated that “the Project [still] retains a high level of inherent risk”. The firm said that the risks included “a series of complex and significant activities” which will command a “high planned spend rate”.

Cited as examples were construction at the North and South Dams, continuing power plant installation, turbine and generator installation, HVDC commissioning, and the approaching winter.

Why should the issue of “high level of inherent risk” justify revisiting?

Thursday, 7 September 2017

EY REPORT ON MUSKRAT FALLS MOSTLY A BIG MISS

When it comes to auditing the risks and shortcomings of the Muskrat Falls project, and the incompetence of Nalcor, EY is no Liberty Consulting Group.

Plain-speaking Liberty, employed by the PUB to analyse the cause of the breakdown in service during DarkNL, persistently offered a clear narrative of what reforms might effect change.  

In contrast, EY’s prescription for Muskrat is so couched in practised opacity and bathed in bureaucratization that often only the innocuous is illuminated. The Muskrat Falls Report entitled "Assessment of Implementation of EY Interim Report recommendations" is essentially a document for politicians to point towards. It is strong on neither engineering nor cost-accounting. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

B.C.'s SITE C AND MUSKRAT FALLS COMPARED

Guest Post by David Vardy
Summary of Submission to BCUC
This is a summary of my detailed submission entitled "Site C and Muskrat Falls Compared" made to the British Columbia Utilities Commission relating to their inquiry into Site C. This inquiry was initiated by the new NDP government of BC and is directed towards the determination of the costs of continuing, suspending or terminating the project.  
In both provinces there were joint federal provincial environmental reports. In each case the joint panel recommended further detailed financial and economic analysis to confirm the wisdom of proceeding, recognizing that no strong business case had been presented for either Site C or Muskrat Falls.  Both provincial governments proceeded with little deference to the advice from the joint environmental panels.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

PUB SHOULD TREAT HYDRO'S RATE HIKE HARSHLY

When government agencies engage in self-aggrandizing claims, they really should try to support them with something more than rhetoric.

The public awaits PUB approval of a NL Hydro sponsored electricity rate increase of 6.6% in 2018 and another 6.4% in 2019. The PUB has adequate reason to reject at least a part of the request.

Hydro’s Rate Application (Vol. I, page 3.5) reads that the rates increases are necessary because: 

Hydro has prudently increased investment in its capital program. In 2016, Hydro spent approximately $204 million on capital work (infrastructure). In 2017, Hydro plans to spend $370 million. These investments, including the new transmission line TL267 from Bay d’Espoir to Western Avalon, are necessary to secure the long-term reliability of the system for Hydro’s customers. (bold added)  

Monday, 28 August 2017

BARD OF PYNN'S BROOK GETS WINDY

WIND 

Offshore mills!  The wind is strong:
A grandiose scheme, beat the gong.
Beothuk sings a heady song 
To let power flow To let  flow to Up-along? 

Think Muskrat Falls a precedent,  
A template for a cost-ascent
That promises our discontent 
As heat bills to the heavens sent.  

Wind power widely subsidized: 
Rates are low, cost high-sized.
Many projects ill-advised, 
Markets often un-realized. 

To fill Brakes Cove, what's the need? 
There's lots of wharf, and land in weed
Sees little use, that could be freed
To development if must proceed. 

For short-term jobs, the mayors bray:
Assemble mills in filled-in Bay.
The public signed for cost to pay?
To facilitate power give-away.

That old hype pattern on project moot. 
We can't afford the bill to foot -
The peoples bill! Who gives a hoot? - 
- Demand a stop to our cash input. 


John Tuach
Pynn's Brook
August 18, 2017 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

"EMPTY WORDS" FROM CONSUMER ADVOCATE DRAWS REPLY FROM ANONYMOUS ENGINEER

EDITOR'S NOTE: We haven't heard from the "whistleblower", referred to as the "Anonymous Engineer", in awhile. But it is important to remember that he is the engineer who originally disclosed falsification of the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project on January 30, 2017. His revelations were described in a post entitled Muskrat Falls Estimates A Complete Falsification and a second post on February 6, 2017 called Muskrat: Allegations of Phony Cost Estimates, as well as to the CBC. Writing today, the whistleblower responds to Consumer Advocate, Dennis Browne, whose recent public comments suggest he is confusing "Forensic Audit" and "Forensic Accounting". - Des Sullivan

Guest Post by the "Anonymous Engineer" 

The letter to the Editor of the Telegram and the concurrent discussion with the journalist Pam Frampton by the Consumer Advocate Dennis Browne of August 19th, 2017 was a futile exercise in public relations.

Mr. Browne did not say anything that the public had not already heard from Premier Ball, Minister Coady and CEO Stan Marshall. At least there is one remarkable element of consistency – they are all singing from the same sheet of music, which no one believes.

Monday, 21 August 2017

NALCOR LOSES $66.9 MILLION IN 6-DAY FAILED HEDGING SCHEME. PUBLIC NOT TOLD.

Introduction
Just when you thought the incompetence couldn't get any worse at Nalcor, along comes another scheme to up the ante on deceit and dumb.


This blogger has just learned that Nalcor lost $66.9 million following management's decision to place a bet of $1.82 billion - public money - in the “futures” market.

Nalcor even tries to put the blame on U.S. President Donald Trump.

To add insult to injury, Nalcor and the Ball Government did their best to cover up the failed scheme.

The losses occurred in May of this year. An eagle-eyed Nalcor watcher, able to parse Nalcor’s most opaque assertions, brought the contents of the corporation’s last quarterly financial statement to my attention.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

REFLECTIONS ON THE MUSKRAT FALLS PROJECT

Guest Post by David Vardy

Introduction
The sanctioning of the Muskrat Falls project in December of 2012 was a huge mistake, one which has spiralled into a major economic and environmental catastrophe. 

The warnings of the joint federal provincial panel were ignored, as were those of the Public Utilities Board. These warnings relate to the lack of a business case for the project, the high risk for a small province, the adverse demographic factors, the lack of export markets and the high unit cost.
A Gamble that failed

In a Telegram article dated May 25, 2013 the Honourable John Crosbie said that “Muskrat Falls is worth the risk”, quoting T. S. Eliot on the subject of risk: Only those who would risk going too far can possibly find out how far you can go. Since then we have sailed on a sea of risk and reaped the whirlwind. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

THE AG AND THE CONSUMER ADVOCATE DO THE PROVINCE A DISSERVICE

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is, it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”

Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Only within the upside-down world of Alice would much of what is occurring in this province make any sense. Still, the behaviours of such an inverted some would say perverted place, their origins in the Premier’s Office, ought not to extend to our few institutions.

But they do.

Politics in NL has been turned upside down.

An excessive level of stupidity, denial and self-interest far more than normal has infected our political process. That the Ball Liberals have prolonged the madness begun by the Tories does not make it any less mad. It has been allowed to run through the senior bureaucracy, too try as the government might to create the perception of normalcy.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

COADY WRONG ABOUT NORTH SPUR REVIEW, SAYS SENIOR ENGINEER

Guest Post by James L. Gordon, P. Eng. (Ret’d)

THE NORTH SPUR DESIGN HAS NOT BEEN REVIEWED BY
MULTIPLE GEOSCIENCE ENGINEERS!

The presence of quick clay and soft sensitive clay has been known ever since the Spur was first investigated in 1965. Several consulting engineering companies have looked at the Spur and issued reports on their investigations. Many have proposed solutions to stabilize the Spur.

However, all this work can be regarded as preliminary since the geotechnical investigations were incomplete. None of the proposed solutions were “approved for construction”, nor intended to be. They were the first attempts to find a suitable solution to the instability demonstrated by the many landslides in the vicinity of the Spur, and on the Spur.

SNC have undertaken further geotechnical tests and have developed a design which has been “approved for construction”, and has been built.

However, the design has not been reviewed by senior geotechnical engineers with experience in sensitive and quick clay, contrary to the assertions of Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady.

Monday, 7 August 2017

NL NEEDS A REVOLUTION. YOU WILL HAVE TO LEAD IT.

NL needs a revolution. It’s just possible that the seeds of revolt are germinating. A recent VOCM “Question of the Day” Poll may have revealed such an undercurrent.

It wasn’t a scientific Poll in the tradition of CRA, MQO or one of the many market opinion research entities offering political parties and detergent retailers essential feedback.

Neither did it offer a representative sample of a defined population or even a statistical probability of accuracy (as in 19 times out of 20).

But it boasted three compelling components which, taken together, stand out: it was strikingly relevant, offered a choice of unambiguous answers, and attracted a high level of respondents in excess of 10,000.

The question read simply: What measures will you take if power rates continue to increase?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

THE RISE AND DECLINE OF CATHY BENNETT

When I wrote “Cathy Bennett’s Days in Finance Are Numbered” little more than ten months ago, I seriously doubted her tenure would last more than a few weeks.

I had assessed the province’s financial position and her first Budget. It was easy to see that the restraint measures she proposed — mostly increased taxation — were the work of a hapless political amateur delaying the axe-wielding necessitated by a widening fiscal chasm. 


The exigencies of politics demanded execution at the start of the government’s term. Even if one cared not a whit about the province’s finances, delay bore far more political landmines than decision.
Admittedly, the September piece had poorly assessed the importance of ego, partisanship and ambition over common sense. Still, in the circumstance, a savvy Minister of Finance should have presented an ill-equipped Premier the fiscal ultimatum commanded by a dreadful Tory legacy.

Monday, 31 July 2017

(REAL) RATE MITIGATION REQUIRES SPARKING THE LARGEST LAWSUIT IN CANADIAN HISTORY.

If you were disturbed by the Telegram Brian Jones’ “apocalyptic” editorial last week (finally, it seems, ‘mainstream’ meets blogger) which forecasts the inevitable shutdown of Muskrat Falls because it will prove to be too expensive to operate – you will be equally frightened by the fact that the Premier’s assertions around rate mitigation are grounded in ideas that are just as fraudulent as those that brought us this project.  


Of course, JONES IS RIGHT.  But that’s another story.
The province has limited wiggle room to escape the apocalyptic; so it's time to listen up. The smart money should anyway.
As if to prove he doesn’t get it, the Premier promises rate mitigation engaging a Committee which will include Nalcor letting the fakers, possibly fraudsters, extend the deceit that pervades the Muskrat Falls project.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

FLUNDERING JEEZE!

FLUNDERING JEEZE! 
(Urban Dictionary - Flunder: A repetitive nature to be a  _uck up.”)

The union of a flounder and a blunder is a flunder
(Flailing on the bottom in the mind):
Repeating same mistakes with no learning in the stunder;
Ferries and fisheries, roads, are all a kind. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

WHY WE SHOULD RESPECT THE INCARCERATED LABRADOR THREE

None of the people who are alleged to have falsified the estimates, and possibly other aspects of the so-called “business case” for the Muskrat Falls project, are in jail.

Some of those responsible are probably still permitted to wield power, enter into contracts, spend public money, earn large salaries, and if they have been deceitful cover their tracks.

Although the consequences of their actions will imperil the economy and cause enormous human pain, possibly for decades, the politicians from the Premier down have made excuses to protect them from being held to account.

They enjoy immunity while their mothership Nalcor is permitted to swear affidavits and call upon the judicial system to grant injunctions against protesters making a mockery of transparency and fairness in the bargain.    

Thursday, 20 July 2017

MEDIA FOCUS ON 'CHASE THE ACE' HAS UNCLE GNARLEY OUT OF SORTS

Uncle Gnarley is in a foul mood.

The old economist and Petty Harbour fisherman called up just the other day to wail that the “Chase the Ace” lottery in the Goulds is getting more traction than possible fraud at Nalcor.

That the CBC had stationed a reporter in the community for the whole day - and planned to go back on-air to chase the outcome - didn’t sit well with him. “Damn blasted,” he could be heard, “sure the crowd at 'Here and Now' probably think Muskrat is something to chase, too.

"A bunch of innocents thinking a church lottery makes better news than fooling people and squandering billions", he growled. 

He was not happy. And not because he didn’t have a ticket.

Yes, it’s July. And readers are likely saying ‘for the love of Pete, knock it off… we don’t care if Nalcor is responsible for every iceberg on the north-east coast as long as winter is over by Regatta Day!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

BARD OF PYNN'S BROOK TAKES ON MUSKRAT - IN VERSE, OF COURSE

Editor's Note: John Tuach, a geologist, is well-known to the mining and mineral exploration industry. It seems, in addition to a keen skill for staking promising mineral claims, he has a talent for poetry - of which I was unaware. Known to most only by his surname, Tuach, the 'bard of Pynn's Brook', has written several of what he calls "Muskrat rants". They can be found at www.jinglejohn.com .The Uncle Gnarley Blog has never considered the appointment of a Poet Laureate - always thinking playwright, never settling on whether comedy or tragedy. But Tuach - in verse - sets one to thinking!

Monday, 17 July 2017

MUD LAKE VS. PENNECON: GIVING PROFIT A BAD NAME

When Barnard Pennecon LP was asked to comment on a letter which a senior company executive wrote to Nalcor, blaming them for the Mud Lake flood, it denied that the letter reflected its official position on the issue.


On Monday, July 10, 2017 the Uncle Gnarley Blog released a series of quotations contained in the one-page letter from the North and South Dam contractor. The executive told Nalcor that had it exercised “reasonable diligence [it] could have prevented the blockade by properly managing the downstream flows.”


The flood triggered a gate blockade at the entrance to the project; protestors blamed Nalcor for the flooding.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

FILLED RESERVOIR WILL CAUSE NORTH SPUR TO FAIL, STUDY PREDICTS

Guest Post by James L. Gordon, P.Eng. (Ret'd)

THE MUSKRAT NORTH SPUR WILL FAIL!

Mr. Robin Dury, an engineering student at the Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, INSA Lyon, has undertaken a geotechnical analysis of the North Spur as part of his studies towards a Master’s degree in Geotechnical Engineering. He concludes that –

For assumed material properties and geometries of failure, the critical load-carrying capacity is below 1000 kN/m whereas a rise of the water level with 21 m (to El. 39m) will give an increased load of Nq  = 2420 kN/m. This is more than twice of what the ridge may stand with the assumed properties.

In other words, the North Spur will fail when the reservoir is filled.

Monday, 10 July 2017

NEW WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS NALCOR RESPONSIBLE FOR MUD LAKE FLOODING

A new whistleblower has contacted the Uncle Gnarley Blog — shedding new light on who is responsible for the severe flooding and evacuation of the community of Mud Lake in May.

The confidential source has leaked a copy of a letter sent by Bernard Pennecon LP, the contractor building the North and South Dams, to Nalcor’s subsidiary, Muskrat Falls Corporation. The document states that the event was due to Nalcor’s “failure to manage the downstream flows which resulted in the flooding of the Mud Lake Community.” (Bold added to all direct quotes from the Barnard Pennecon letter.)
The letter dated 23-May-2017 was given exclusively to the Uncle Gnarley Blog.

In January another whistleblower, the "Anonymous Engineer", gave the Uncle Gnarley Blog details of how the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project had been falsified in Nalcor's bid to get sanction, a process which continued until after the 2015 General Election.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

ANONYMOUS ENGINEER SAYS ED MARTIN'S STATEMENT MAKES NO SENSE

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a Guest Post written by the whistleblower, who I have dubbed the "Anonymous Engineer". He originally disclosed – on this Blog - falsification of the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project on January 30, 2017 . At that time, his comments were recorded in a post entitled Muskrat Cost Estimates "A Complete Falsification". A second post called Muskrat: Allegations of Phony Cost Estimates provided significant additional details of both low-balled estimates at sanction and even after sanction. — Des Sullivan

Guest Post by the "Anonymous Engineer"
I read Ed Martin’s “Statement” of June 26th, 2017 with a sense of regret and dismay. Regret – because it represents  an accelerated demise from an exalted position; dismay – as most of the “Statement” made no sense.