We are packed stem to stern this week, which leaves my space here at a premium this week. And what a week it’s been. I will start with acknowledging the tragic discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. I absolutely cannot do this tragedy justice in this tiny space today, but turn to page 11 for an article by Local Journalism Initiative reporter Jacob Cardinal on the topic; he has done it better there than I could ever do here. The flags of this province and our local municipalities are flying at half-mast in recognition of the children, as well they should.
A couple of weeks ago we shared a story on the Milltown dam, written by Advocate Media (our parent company) investigative reporter Janet Whitman. The article details much of what is happening with the dam, and response from you, the readers and residents of the county has been overwhelming. Both of today’s letters to the editor are on the subject, and chatter online when I posted the article was significant. What I would say to local and provincial government is this; support for the removal of the dam is, at least looking at responses both online and in print, minimal.
Decommissioning dollar figures simply don’t add-up to being the most cost-effective for NB Power itself nor ratepayers, and I’ve yet to see anyone make financial sense of removing the existing and operating dam. NB Power uses the threat of increased power rates (by 1 per cent) to frighten opponents of decommissioning away, claiming refurbishment will cost rate payer. But the utility has been tight lipped about what rate increases will come from the decommissioning price tag of an approximate (NB Power keeps maneuvering the number) $30 million dam removal cost – a price tag NB Power can’t afford.
A recent audit by the former N.B. auditor general shows NB Power’s books and finances in disarray…so once again I have to ask for anyone at the utility to argue a clear case for assuming the cost of decommission.
One comment online was “follow the money” and I suspect the person is right. At the risk of sounding jaded, we’ve once again hit my favourite theory; Occam’s Razor. It says in the absence of any obvious explanation, the most simple is often the right one.
And in this case, in the absence of any indication removal is legitimately the most cost-effective option, it would seem there are some behind closed door deals happening that see someone, likely the utility itself, benefiting in some fashion from the dam removal. I could be wrong, and would be happy to be proven so.
I’m still waiting.