Government releases Terms of Reference for Churchill River Energy Analysis Team
ST. JOHN’S, NL – The provincial government has two different groups analyzing the Churchill River assets with the aim of reaching a better deal for 2041 when the current electricity contract with Hydro-Quebec, signed in 1969, expires.
A group, called the Churchill River Management Panel – more commonly known as the 2041 Panel – was publicly announced in May.
The other, called the Churchill River Energy Analysis Team, was not publicly known until news outlet AllNewfoundlandLabrador learned through a freedom of information request.
Since AllNewfoundlandLabrador published its article on June 14, opposition parties have demanded more information about the second secret team, such as its mandate, and who is on the team other than the president, the close friend of the Premier Andrew Furey, Brendan Paddick.
The government released this information on Wednesday, June 29.
In addition to Paddick, the team will include: NL Hydro President and CEO Jennifer Williams; other NL Hydro Auburn executives Warren, Michael Ladha and John Skinner; Industry, Energy and Technology Deputy Minister John Cowan; and Tracey Pennell, justice and public safety attorney.
Mandate and objectives
The team’s mandate includes: carrying out a detailed analysis of hydroelectric opportunities on the Churchill River; analysis of bulk power export opportunities, expansion of domestic use and new industrial development with respect to the Churchill River and its power generation; and an analysis that ensures maximum long-term benefit from the assets.
The team’s objectives are to:
- Strengthen the province’s negotiating position before 2041;
- Identify opportunities that lead to the development of the Churchill River for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador;
- Provide a clear analysis of electricity market trends, including cost and access to transmission;
- Valuing potential future developments and electricity sales;
- Identify opportunities that will maximize the province’s position as a producer of green energy;
- Support Paddick, who will work with the group 2041.
The terms of reference state that Paddick will not receive any compensation except reimbursable expenses, and that very limited travel is required, with preference given to virtual meetings.
The terms of reference did not set a timetable for the team’s work.
On the other hand, the 2041 group works under a tight deadline. The group of experts was formed in May and should conclude its work by the end of September at the latest.
The 2041 group will provide advice to Furey and the firm. Its mandate is to recommend potential approaches to government to ensure maximum long-term benefits from the Churchill Falls assets, power station and transmission facilities. The committee also has a mandate to educate the public and government on the implications of the current contract for the province.
During a press conference announcing the panel on May 11, Furey made no mention of the other team that Paddick managed, even though Paddick was named president of that team in September 2021.
“Life is full of conflict”
A June 27 VOCM story raised concerns about Paddick’s involvement because he is partnered with a West Coast hydrogen project developer, but VOCM quoted Furey, who said that he did not consider it a conflict of interest.
Furey told VOCM that “life is full of conflict…especially when you’re looking for expertise in an area that has a pretty shallow pool,” and it’s not about the conflict, it’s about how. whose conflict is being handled, and he said he thinks Paddick can handle it appropriately.
On June 28, SaltWire asked Attorney General John Hogan about the two teams.
“The more people there are with expertise in these areas, the more detail and information the government and cabinet will give to make the appropriate decisions,” Hogan said. “Historically, I certainly think it’s clear that Newfoundland and Labrador hasn’t always made the best decisions on major projects, and we don’t want to make that mistake again.
Acting Conservative Opposition Leader David Brazil told SaltWire he was glad details of Paddick’s squad were now public, although he said it was unfortunate he had the opposition and the media had to ask questions to get the information.
“The issue here is why it hasn’t been made public, which makes people suspicious,” he said.
Brazil said they hope the two teams don’t clash or cause confusion.
“We need to make sure we get it right this time around and show that Newfoundland and Labrador is open for business as long as the people of this province here are the primary beneficiaries of all resource revenue generated” , did he declare.