Normal relations with Hydro-Québec will be tricky, says former Nalcor chair

While Nalcor's CEO wants to normalize the often-adversarial relationship with Hydro-Québec, a former executive says that's easier said than done.
Rogers Cable executive, Ken Marshall, was chair of the board of directors of Nalcor until he resigned in April. (CBC)

While Nalcor's CEO wants to normalize the often-adversarial relationship with Hydro-Québec, a former executive says that's easier said than done.

"It all depends. As long as there's a level playing field, and as long as people understand the principles going forward (it can happen)," Ken Marshall told CBC.

Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall told CBC earlier this week — in the wake of another loss in court for Newfoundland and Labrador's energy corporation — that negotiation, not litigation, is his preferred method for dealing with the Quebec company.

But the former chairman of Nalcor's board says that's a challenge.

"I can tell you we worked very hard during our time to have good relations with Hydro-Québec directors," said Ken Marshall. "But it's very interesting. There's a long and complicated history. There's a lot at stake, and you just have to be very careful."

Marshall resigned as chair of the Nalcor board in April, along with other directors, after the departure of then-CEO Ed Martin, saying they no longer held the confidence of government.

When pressed, he wouldn't say if he thought normal relations between Nalcor and Hydro-Québec are even possible.

"I can't comment on that," he said.

Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall is more optimistic about normalizing relations with Hydro-Quebec. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Stan Marshall is more positive about the prospects, telling CBC earlier this week that negotiations with the Quebec company are going well.

"We were able to resolve one regulatory dispute we had, and that's working out well for us," he said. He said Nalcor was able to negotiate terms to use Quebec transmission lines to export power.

"Rather than take it to the regulator that we were scheduled to do in June, we decided to sit down and negotiate. We did that and we came up with an amicable solution that's working well."

With files from Peter Cowan.