In early December 2009 AIMS released a short, focused analysis of the key questions left unanswered by the MOU for the sale of NB Power. Authored by energy expert Gordon Weil, this piece has generated fierce discussion on both sides of the MOU line. There is little doubt it has quickly become required reading and has on its own advanced the discussion of this key public policy issue more than any other comment on the proposed deal to date.
“And that is as it should be,” says AIMS President & CEO Charles Cirtwill. “Public policy think tanks exist to encourage informed and thoughtful debate on the issues that affect our day to day lives.
In that light, AIMS today published a Response to the Weil Analysis. It too is written by a noted expert in the energy field, William Marshall, President of WKM Energy Consultants and the former chair of New Brunswick System Operator.
Marshall says that while he in general agrees with the Weil analysis, he does offer clarifications on a number of matters raised by Weil, including on the concerns raised about Point Lepreau, regulation and open access to transmission lines.
“In my view it (the NB Power MOU) is a financial risk mitigation strategy for New Brunswick with the goal of providing electricity customers with lower rates and shielding them from future cost risks,” concludes Marshall. “It does have a few shortcomings that need to be addressed in the definitive agreement but overall is the basis of a deal that provides value for New Brunswick.”
Gordon Weil, President of Maine Energy, who wrote the first piece for AIMS says he wants to make it perfectly clear he is neither for nor against the proposed MOU.
“All I suggest is that New Brunswick fully understand the costs and benefits of the proposed arrangement before deciding,” says Weil. “I have suggested (1) NB should seek through negotiations greater risk sharing by Hydro Quebec; (2) NB should run a benefit analysis using purchased power rather than retention of older generating units as NERA proposed; and (3) it should compare the results and select the better of the two.”
“AIMS has published extensively on NB Power over the years,” says Cirtwill. “Those experts have consistently concluded that the sale of the utility is in the best interest of taxpayers and rate payers. This detailed discussion of the MOU highlights some of the issues that need to be addressed before any binding contract is signed. “
“Raising such concerns now before the final bill of sale is signed should make for the best possible deal for New Brunswickers.”
To read the Marshall response, click here.
To read the Weil analysis, click here.