Massive hydroelectric project could
help with climate change
Feb 6, 2007 The Associated Press
Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams cast himself
as an environmental champion Tuesday, saying the proposed
Lower Churchill hydroelectric development could help
Canada dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Williams made the bold claim in the body of a statement
that confirmed Newfoundland's Crown-owned electric
utility had applied to transmit power through New
Brunswick to the rest of the Maritimes and the huge
The application was necessary because Williams has
said electricity from Labrador could be sent through
sub-sea, high-voltage cables to New Brunswick if the
utility fails to reach a transmission deal with Hydro
But the outspoken premier made it clear he has a
loftier goal in mind as he pushes ahead with a multibillion-dollar
proposal to build two hydroelectric dams downstream
from the existing Churchill Falls power plant.
"The Lower Churchill project has great potential
as a long-term, reliable, clean electricity supply
that can contribute to a made-in Canada solution to
meeting our nation's clean energy requirements," Williams
"The recent heightened attention to climate change
reinforces our view that new hydroelectric development
has an important role to play in reducing greenhouse
gas emissions from power generation."
Williams said the Labrador project is ideal because
it would fulfill Canada's desire to produce more "environmentally
Kathy Dunderdale, Newfoundland's natural resources
minister, said the new dams could displace 16 megatonnes
of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be produced
from coal-fired generating stations.
Federal Environment Minister John Baird has said
the Conservative government will not set national
targets for cutting greenhouse emissions even though
it is committed to reducing pollution that contributes
to climate change.
Under the former Liberal government's plan to implement
the Kyoto protocol on climate change, Canada committed
to cutting 100 megatonnes of greenhouse gases - made
up mainly of carbon dioxide - by 2010.
In Newfoundland, the Lower Churchill project has
been on the drawing board in one form or another for
about 30 years. A final decision on its feasibility
will be made by 2009 with first power expected no
sooner than 2015.
Williams said that when environmental concerns and
market demands are considered, the timing for the
Lower Churchill project "could not be more perfect."
Still, the project is far from a done deal.
There is no financing in place and the project also
requires an environmental assessment, an impact and
benefit agreement with the Labrador Innu, commercial
terms and engineering planning.
If approved, the dams at Muskrat Falls and Gull Island
would produce 2,800 megawatts of electricity, enough
to supply about 1.5 million homes.