Nfld. & Labrador

Williams calls Que. regulator 'kangaroo court'

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has levied a new barrage of insults against Quebec's energy regulator, while raising the temperature in an ongoing dispute over a multibillion-dollar megaproject.

Maritime alternative picking up political support

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has levied a new barrage of insults against Quebec's energy regulator, while raising the temperature in an ongoing dispute over a multibillion-dollar megaproject.

Williams, meanwhile, has received a political boost, with Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter speaking out in favour of an alternate route for the Lower Churchill megaproject that would involve his province and New Brunswick.

Quebec's Régie de l'énergie earlier this month dismissed Newfoundland and Labrador's appeal that Hydro-Québec was not following open access rules regarding its transmission lines.

Releasing an English translation on Wednesday, Williams — who greeted the initial ruling with derision — launched a new series of salvos against what he called a ruinous decision.

"This is one of the most — if not the most — biased, slanted, lop-sided decisions that I ever, ever seen…. It makes findings without fact. It disputes facts that are actually fact," Williams said.

"It breaks all the rules. A kangaroo court is all it is."

No route to get energy to market

Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador's Crown-owned energy corporation, has been developing the $6.5-billion Lower Churchill project in central Labrador, but does not yet have a route to bring the energy to market. If developed as proposed, the two-site megaproject would generate 2,800 megawatts of power, or enough energy to supply as many as 1.5 million households.

Hydro-Québec has maintained it cannot spare the excess capacity in its existing transmission system, which prompted Newfoundland and Labrador's appeal to the Régie.

Although Williams has said the government is preparing a Supreme Court of Canada challenge, he said Wednesday that the province's best chances for redress lie south of the border.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government released its own translation of the Régie decision, as the original decision was released only in French.

As he revealed earlier this month, Williams said Newfoundland and Labrador is preparing a case for the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which insists on two-way fairness for those who supply energy to the American marketplace.

"There appears to certainly be a — I think it might be improper to say a sympathetic ear, but certainly a listening ear south of the border with regard to what's going on in Quebec," Williams said.

Maritime route

"I personally have met with the American counsel as well, to explain to him exactly what the circumstances of the decision are and I've provided him with a copy of the decision."

Even as the rhetoric over Quebec heats up, Williams has said he is pursuing what is called the Maritime route for Lower Churchill power, which would see undersea cabling from Labrador to the Maritimes.

Dexter, meanwhile, said Wednesday he supports having Lower Churchill power land in Nova Scotia and move to the New Brunswick grid.

"If the transmission corridor is already there, and already in place, and there is infrastructure already in place (in New Brunswick), obviously it would appear that that would be the most economically feasible (course of action) to pursue," the Halifax Chronicle-Herald quoted Dexter as saying in a report published Thursday.

"That's the kind of working foundation of most conversations I have had."