Jump start Lepreay talks8/30/2012
The end of Point Lepreau’s nuclear reactor refurbishment may finally be in sight. Personnel recently received regulatory approval to bring the reactor up to 35 per cent of full power; officials expect to have it fully operational before winter.
There is something else that the provincial government and NB Power should be ramping up to full strength: negotiations with the federal government, regarding who will pay for Atomic Energy of Canada’s bungling. The costs of refurbishment delays may be as much as $1 billion.
AECL was a federal Crown corporation, and before the federal government finalized the sale of its reactor division, it also assumed fiscal responsibility for any errors committed during the Lepreau project.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal MPs have repeatedly affirmed that commitment, with just a couple of conditions: first, that NB Power make an evidence-based case for compensation; and second, that the refurbishment be completed before an agreement is struck.
In the interest of settling this issue as quickly as possible, it makes sense for New Brunswickers to determine now what data the federal government will need to make its decision.
We would like to make three requests - one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, one of NB Power’s executive and one directed to Premier David Alward.
Prime Minister Harper, we believe all parties in these negotiations would benefit if the issue were discussed in clearer terms. It would aid the process immensely if your government would clarify what it believes its fiduciary obligations are, and what data NB Power will need to provide to satisfy federal officials that hundreds of millions of dollars in replacement power bills and other expenditures did flow directly from AECL’s poor performance.
With this information in hand, the executive team at NB Power should be able to make compiling the data a top priority.
Premier David Alward’s role should be that of an advocate for the people of New Brunswick. He must urge both parties to do the right thing - reminding the federal government of its obligation, and pressing NB Power to provide a full accounting of refurbishment costs.
When a settlement has been reached, we would ask the premier to perform one additional duty and ensure that any cash NB Power receives is put against the refurbishment’s deferral account. Not a penny of the settlement should be counted as revenues by NB Power or cabinet until the deferred debt provoked by AECL is erased.