Baie Verte Community Hall hosts MLA Mike Olscamp

About twenty residents held a round table discussion about the NB Power/Hydro Quebec Revised Deal with Conservative MLA Mike Olscamp on Monday night in the community hall in Baie Verte.

Olscamp says that the revised MOU is not much of an improvement. Premier Shawn Graham is still selling Lepreau, Nactaquac and all other hydro electric facilities but NB will now keep hold of the transmission and distribution divisions of NB Power.

Although N.B will retain the ownership of the NBP head office, or ‘Holdco’, Olscamp says that the MOU states clearly that the control of energy decisions will be altered to conform to the framework in Quebec. Said Olscamp, “If I were at the table, I’d play harder ball”.

Olscamp made a calm but forceful argument against the deal saying that New Brunswick Power’s debt is not dire and that the deal will not offer lower rates. Olscamp says that under the MOU Quebec Hydro can incorporate additional service costs into the price of electricity, incorporating all costs into the year six rate increase.

Olscamp was also concerned that the deal allows Hydro Quebec to shut down Belledune and Coleson Cove with one year’s notice. HQ is obliged to pay one year’s salaries and other costs when they close them down but Olscamp feels that the de-commissioning of the plants will cost New Brunswick. Olscamp says , “We are going to pay for the sale of our own utilities, I am convinced of that”.

As one audience member suggested, Quebec will not have any hesitation closing down plants in a province where their political careers are far removed.

The deal is supposed to be finalized by March 31st, although it is contingent upon getting Lepreau up and running. HQ will make two payments totaling 3.2 billion; the first (1.8 billion) on or about March 31st 2010, and the second ( 1.4 billion) would be paid around Jan 1, 2011 when the Point Lepreau refurbishment project is clearly under way.

Residents wondered how New Brunswick would get out of the deal if it was signed. Olscamp said he and other Conservative MLA’s had been trying to get answers for months. Speaking rhetorically, Olscamp said, “Is it constitutional to sell one province’s resources to another province, and what would the costs be to get out of this deal?”

He told concerned residents that they should continue their petitions. Two hundred petitions (of 75-100 names) have already been presented to the House of Commons. Conservative MLA’s have had their request for a thirty day delay rejected, but according to Olscamp there is still time for debate. Olscamp said, “We own New Brunswick Power, and this is a democracy”.

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