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Restructuring Watch Publications

May 19, 2016
FemNorthNet is taking a bit of a break over summer 2016. This means the Restructuring Watch section of our website will not be updated over this period. However, we encourage you to stay up to date with developments in our partner communities by searching for news using your preferred online search engine or by visiting their local news websites: Thompson Citizen (, The Labradorian (, and The Telegram (
May 2, 2016
Nalcor is in court this week defending itself against a lawsuit filed by TCE Capital Corporation. TCE claims it is owed almost $900,000 for work done by a company it hired to cut timber to make way the transmission line in Labrador.

TCE had contracted Great Western Forestry to clear the land where the lines would be installed, but were never paid for the final bill that was submitted back in December of 2013.

Three weeks have been set aside for the trial.
May 1, 2016
The new head of the Newfoundland Crown corporation Nalcor Inc. isn’t showing any “Muskrat love”.

In his first public comments in his new job, Stan Marshall pronounced himself “deeply troubled” by the delays and cost overruns on the huge Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

He even hinted the project might be shelved, while conceding that could be unlikely after $4 billion has already been spent on developing Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Marshall also questioned the Maritime Link contract under which Muskrat Falls hydroelectric power would be transmitted to Nova Scotia by sub-sea cable.

For Nova Scotians, the stakes in this project are huge.

Muskrat and the Maritime Link deal with Emera Inc. are crucial to Nova Scotia’s plans to access additional renewable energy and meet provincial and regional emission targets.
April 28, 2016
Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is calling for Atlantic Canada to get a move on with the Muskrat Falls energy project.

"I remain unequivocally positive about the Muskrat Falls project and the benefits for both of our regions," Williams said during a speech in Halifax Thursday evening.

"It's a project that, when completed, will reap benefits for many generations to come — and unlike oil, water flows forever."

One of his last deals as premier was the mega hydro power deal to develop the Lower Churchill Project.

Fast forward to 2016, and the status of the project is in limbo.

Last week, new Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall said he was unsure if it would be worth completing the project.
April 28, 2016
Nalcor Energy’s new boss mused publicly last week about whether the Muskrat Falls project might get too rich for the Crown corporation’s blood.

But the price of backing out would include hefty compensation to Nova Scotia partner Emera if it walks away from the project.

Stan Marshall, Nalcor’s new CEO and former Fortis Inc. president, told journalists last week he was unsure if it would be worth completing the project, which is behind schedule and has seen costs jump 33 per cent to $9.2 billion.

“There’s always a point in any project where the cost of going forward is not worth it,” he said at a press conference.

However, pulling out could prove pricey for Nalcor, a St. John’s-based Newfoundland & Labrador Crown corporation.
April 25, 2016
Remember? Remember when we were told that the Muskrat Falls project was the least-cost option for electric power? When we were told that, even if power from the complex came in at around 21 cents a kilowatt hour, it would be way, way cheaper than anything else because oil prices were going to continue to climb through the roof? (They didn’t.)
Remember when we were told by then-premier Kathy Dunderdale that we had nothing to fear because of the “world-class” experts from this province at Nalcor, the world-class experts who had never built a major hydroelectric project — who had never built well, a major anything?

Remember how, when critics pointed out the harsh truth, that hydroelectric projects (especially those built by government agencies) regularly overshoot their initial budget targets, those same critics were essentially dismissed by our knowledgeable and expert world-class politicians, none of whom had ever build a major anything either?
April 25, 2016
A scientific study concludes Nalcor’s downstream impact predictions are false, based on incorrect assumptions.

It models low, medium and high- risk outcomes for the people downstream of Nalcor Energy’s hydroelectric project at Muskrat Falls — showing risk of changes ultimately dangerous to human health.

The Harvard University-led study is the culmination of four years of work, examining methyl mercury levels in the Lake Melville ecosystem.

It shows the expected changes, as the reservoir for the Muskrat Falls project is flooded. Update: A first phase of the study was already released, showing an expected spike in methyl mercury levels in the Lake Melville area, downstream from the project site.
April 24, 2016
April 2016 saw a turning point in Herbert Stanley Marshall’s career and also a turning point for Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy history. Newly appointed Nalcor Energy CEO Stan Marshall, now in his mid-60s, has opted to postpone retirement and take on one of the greatest challenges in provincial history: accountability for leading the team that will maximize energy potential and get energy projects back on track in Newfoundland and Labrador.

With the oil and gas climate as it is today and the Muskrat Falls Project in overruns and off schedule, that will be no easy task. But this highly qualified Chemical Engineer, who also holds a Bachelor of Law from Dalhousie University, is confident it can be done.
April 22, 2016
Officials at Nalcor Energy are refuting the alarming findings of a scientific study into methyl mercury fears at Muskrat Falls, but are pledging to consider the information in its human risk health assessment for the massive project.

"We will take the time to study the findings further," a spokesman for Nalcor stated in an email Monday evening.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Gilbert Bennett, vice-president of the Lower Churchill Project, said some of the findings in the study are consistent with Nalcor's findings, but added, "we do not predict that creation of the Muskrat Falls reservoir will heighten risk to people in Lake Melville."

Bennett's statement came hours after the Nunatsiavut Government released a study, saying hundreds of Labrador Inuit will be exposed to dangerous levels of toxic methyl mercury if the Muskrat Falls reservoir is not fully cleared of before it is flooded.

Inuit leaders said Monday they are prepared to consider "all options," including a legal challenge, to force Nalcor into action and clear all the trees, brush and other organic material from the reservoir site.
April 22, 2016
Premier Dwight Ball has appointed five people to make up the interim board of directors at Nalcor Energy, after the former board resigned en masse this week.

Veteran lawyer John Green, who the government says has experience in the "oil and gas, electricity, mining and forestry sectors," has been named interim board chair.

A Newfoundland and Labrador government news release said Green resigned from his position at law firm McInnes Cooper to take on the role.

Other members include Donna Brewer, deputy minister of finance, and Stan Marshall, who was named as chief executive officer on Thursday.

Also named are Chris Loomis, a former Memorial University vice-president who has served on subsidiary boards at the Crown corporation, and Heather Jacobs, deputy minister of justice and public safety.

The appointments are effective immediately.
April 22, 2016
Former Liberal premier Roger Grimes is criticizing some of the choices made by the Liberals in this year's budget.

Grimes told CBC News he believes the budget's deficit reduction levy is akin to asking the public to pay for the mess at Muskrat Falls.

"In my circles people talk about it as the Muskrat Falls levy," he said.

Grimes took issue with Finance Minister Cathy Bennett's comments that the province had no choice but to give this money directly to Nalcor.

He said the province should reconsider the levy before the budget is passed.

"They can still get their revenue measures, just switch it from a levy to a little more income tax," he said.
April 22, 2016
Some construction highlights from 2015:
• Concrete placement completed for the spillway piers and the separation wall, and significant progress made on the centre transition dams.
• Work started on the installation of the spillway gates in preparation for river diversion in 2016 and work began on the construction of the North and South Dams.
• All of the access roads and right-of-way clearing for the transmission line from Muskrat Falls to Churchill Falls was completed.
April 20, 2016
CBC News has confirmed the entire board of Nalcor is resigning.

The shocking announcement came Wednesday evening, on the heels of Nalcor CEO and President Ed Martin's announcement earlier in the day that he was stepping down.

The board of the Crown corporation made its decision at a meeting Wednesday.

Both Martin and Nalcor have been the subject of scorn and scrutiny in the last week, after coming under fire from the Liberal government in its 2016 budget.
April 18, 2016
A new study says a hydroelectric dam currently in the works in Newfoundland and Labrador could expose more than 200 Inuit people to excessive levels of methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury.
The report was commissioned by the Nunatsiavut Government, which governs an autonomous Inuit area in the province, to look at the downstream impacts of Nalcor Energy's 824 megawatt, Muskrat Falls' hydroelectric dam on the lower Churchill River in Labrador.
April 18, 2016
At Nalcor Energy, 96 per cent of top earners are men, a situation that vice-president Jim Keating calls “absolutely abysmal.”
Up and down the province’s energy corporation, the workforce skews heavily male, but right at the top, it’s particularly acute. All 20 of the highest earners in the company are men.
After releasing a spreadsheet of sunshine list data recently - names, positions and salaries of government workers who earn more than $100,000 - TC Media did an analysis of the workers earning the most at Nalcor Energy.
Out of the top 50 earners, only two are women.
Keating, who’s the executive lead on the Nalcor’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, said when he looked at the numbers, he was surprised.
April 18, 2016
Today is both a good day and a bad day for Nunatsiavut and its people, the Labrador Inuit.

A good day because they released the results of their project Lake Melville: Our Environment, Our Health. The report represents a significant achievement for Labrador Inuit and other Indigenous communities across Canada who are struggling to have their voices heard, constitutional rights respected and social justice realized in resource development projects that directly affect them. I am proud to have been the academic program lead on the Lake Melville project.
April 16, 2016
Cathy Bennett is a former chair of the Nalcor board of directors and one of the founders of a grassroots organization that publicly campaigned for Muskrat Falls.

But in her first budget speech on Thursday, the finance minister fired a broadside at the organization she once helped lead, over its handling of the project she once championed.

"As the province's energy corporation, Nalcor belongs to every citizen of Newfoundland and Labrador," Bennett said in the House of Assembly.

"And since its creation in 2007, taxpayers have invested over $2.25 billion yet have received no dividends. For all corporations and their shareholders, this would be unacceptable."
April 2, 2016
“I ask the premier: have you had any discussions with Nalcor about these increasing costs?”

Poring over four years of Muskrat Falls coverage in The Telegram this week, it seems things have come full circle, politically, as far as that project is concerned.

Back in February 2012, former premier Brian Peckford cared enough about the people of the province to warn then premier Kathy Dunderdale in a letter that “There is deep concern in some quarters of the real likelihood of major cost overruns and the impact this could have on the financial integrity of the province.”
March 31, 2016
A Labrador retailer says she has been flooded with calls from job-seekers after she went public with complaints about staff who regularly fail to show up for work at her stores — even when they're paid bonuses to do so.

Thistle also stirred up a heated debate over the employment insurance system by suggesting some unemployed locals have refused to work for her because they prefer to get regular EI benefits, as if they were on vacation.

Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, said people on EI have the right to refuse work if the job offered doesn't meet certain requirements.

As well, Shortall said she wasn't surprised to hear it can be difficult finding people in Labrador willing to work at a pay scale just above the minimum wage because the cost of living there is so high.
March 30, 2016
A Cape Breton metal fabrication yard has been called in to repair hundreds of faulty welds discovered in transmission tower components for the Maritime Link project, CBC News has learned.

The components were manufactured and supplied by Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited of India for towers that will carry hydro electricity generated from Muskrat Falls, Labrador.

The project is set to go on stream in October 2017.

Jeff Myrick, spokesperson for Emera Newfoundland Labrador, says welds for the steel base did not pass inspection. He said the base components in question affect about 100 of the more than 650 transmission towers that will be used.
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