Concern with NB Power Exploring Partnership with Ontario Power Generation

CRED-NB sent a letter today to Premier Higgs to express concern about the report that NB Power is exploring a partnership with OPG. Here is the text of the letter.

Dear Premier Higgs:

The Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick is concerned about the report March 29th that NB Power is exploring a partnership with Ontario Power Generation, including a possible ownership stake in the Lepreau nuclear facility.

Our primary concern is that you are quoted by CBC, indicating that these significant operational and ownership “discussions with OPG have been (happening) for years.” This has been taking place without any democratic participation by the New Brunswick public – i.e., rate payers and owners of NB Power as a Crown utility. Even more shocking, the NB public has had no information that it has even been taking place! As recently as the February EUB hearings, dealing with NB Power’s application for an 8.9% electricity rate increase, there has been no reference to these ‘partnership’ discussions. The apparent intent of a ‘partnership’ is to address capacity problems at Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station, which are the main contributor to NB Power’s debt and the rate increase application.

We urge you to immediately begin public sharing of the salient features under consideration for any negotiations, including any ‘red lines’, that would not be crossed in any future agreement, in order to ensure New Brunswick’s interests are protected.

Secondly, we call on your government, as owner of the Crown utility, to hold public hearings on the costs, benefits, and social implications of any ‘partnership’ with OPG, while providing the NB public with access to related expertise, in order to ensure transparency for these considerations. The New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board must engage the public’s input on any decisions regarding a ‘partnership’, in order to carry out its role of ensuring the public interest is served.

A ‘partnership’ decision should not be taken in the primary interests of any one sector of the NB economy which might benefit by it, or the primary interests of another province’s crown utility, as referenced in Ken Hartwick’s (OPG’s CEO) email. It must be guided by the best decision for the common good of New Brunswickers and the NB public must be encouraged to weigh in.

A particular point of concern is your reference to getting better capacity “and turn that into a partnership for future generation?” Ontario critics have already documented OPG’s irrational commitment to refurbishment and expansion of the expensive nuclear power option in Ontario, while failing to pursue cost effective, reliable and truly ‘clean’ renewable options. Louise Comeau’s research shows clearly that nuclear power is not the preferred option by New Brunswickers. New Brunswick’s utility needs to be driven by New Brunswickers’ preferences, not the priorities of Ontario’s Crown utility.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns. We hope you will act promptly and transparently on our recommendations. Please keep us informed of your communication and engagement plans.

Gail Wylie
Chair, Coalition for Responsible Energy Development -New Brunswick

Susan Holt, Leader Liberal Party of New Brunswick
David Coon, Leader Green Party of New Brunswick
François Beaulieu, Chairperson and CEO, New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board
Richard A. Williams, Public Intervener, New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board

Author: CRED-NB

Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick