January 26, 2006
Government responds to Ventus Energy comments
Ed Byrne, Minister of Natural Resources, responded today to statements made by the partnership of Ventus Energy Inc. and Metis Energy Corporation which is proposing a 1,000 MW wind farm in Labrador.
"I was shocked and surprised at the level of criticism that the representatives of this company have directed towards government and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro simply because we have indicated we could not support this wind project at this time," said Minister Byrne. "When this group made its presentation to government of its proposal, I was very clear and definitive with the partnership representatives that we are in the process of developing our provincial energy plan and, obviously, the development of wind projects would be a key element of the plan. Therefore, government was not going to make any decision regarding these projects until that process is complete. Now, it appears that they have undertaken a lobby campaign to discredit government and Hydro."
Minister Byrne said there is an increasing level of interest in developing wind projects in this province due to the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador has some of the best sites in North America for wind energy.
"The proposal from Ventus Energy and Metis Energy Corporation is just one of many that government has received," said Minister Byrne. "Wind is becoming an emerging resource and our responsibility as a government is to ensure that this resource is developed in a way that maximizes benefits for the people of the province. We are not going to give away 1,000 megawatts of power until we understand what opportunities there are for this province. This is a significant policy matter for this government, and we will simply not be pressed into making an inappropriate decision."
Minister Byrne reiterated that government sees the potential of Hydro developing this project and maximizing returns to the people of the province.
"Furthermore, I cannot believe that a company�s chief executive officer would make such unprofessional comments on the relationship between two governments and between two hydro companies," said Minister Byrne. "You cannot help but question whether this is the kind of company we want to be doing business with."
Hydro CEO Ed Martin also took exception to the comments, particularly those that questioned the capability and expertise of Hydro.
"Today, Hydro successfully operates over 7,200 MW of generation, including a world-class facility in Churchill Falls," said Mr. Martin. "We have over 50 years in the generation and transmission business. Although we understand the drivers of a privately-owned company like Ventus Energy attempting to maximize returns to outside, private shareholders, we have a full-time New Developments group, supported by highly-trained engineering and operations staff who run one of the top systems in the country. We are more than capable of pursuing this type of development for the full benefit of the province.
"Our costs and reliability are competitive with the rest of the country and better than most areas, as a result of this company�s continual attention to performance and reliability," said Mr. Martin. "We have over 1,100 dedicated, high-performing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are committed to building, operating and maintaining one of the largest electrical utilities in the country for the benefits of our fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."
2006 01 26 4:05 p.m.
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