Coalition of New Brunswickers - NB Power Not for Sale will hold a news conference today.
Fredericton (21 Jan. 2010) - The New Brunswick and Quebec governments have announced an amended $3.2-billion deal to sell a majority of NB Power’s generation assets to Hydro Quebec.
The agreement scales down an earlier plan announced last fall to sell the province’s transmission and distribution companies in a package deal that was to total nearly $4.8 billion.
However, the changes are not significant enough to sway the Coalition of New Brunswickers - NB Power Not for Sale. The group, which strongly opposes the sale, will hold a news conference today in Fredericton to outline the next phase of its campaign.
The coalition includes the New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE). The agenda for the news conference will include the following key objectives:
- To introduce the wide-ranging membership that the coalition has attracted in the few weeks since it was formed.
- To outline a schedule of town hall meetings and rallies to raise public understanding of the long-range implications for citizens if the deal goes ahead.
- To announce plans for a legal challenge to the sale.
- To put forward and promote an alternative plan to the sale.
If the deal is finalized by the target date of March 31, Hydro Quebec would purchase the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station when refurbishment is complete. It would also take ownership of the province’s hydro dams and two diesel units.
NB Power would continue to operate the Coleson Cove and Belledune generating stations and sell the electricity back to Quebec.
New Brunswick’s residential ratepayers would still get a five-year rate freeze and small businesses would see a roughly 15% cut in power rates. Large industrial customers would see their power prices fall by roughly 23%.
This is supposed to be a better deal than the previous proposal which would have seen rates for large industrial customers (including the hugely-profitable Irving interests) drop by nearly 30%.
According to the terms of the deal, New Brunswick will buy a 14-terawatt-hour "heritage pool" of electricity from Quebec for 7.35 cents per kilowatt hour, which it will then supply to power users.
The two provinces say the plan is to sign a long-term power purchase agreement that requires Quebec to supply the entire heritage pool in perpetuity. New Brunswick would have the right to opt out of 30% of the pool around 2040 when the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor nears the end of its lifespan.
The original deal sparked widespread protest across the province, with polls showing that a strong majority of citizens opposed the sale. The dissent extended to the governing Liberal party's caucus. Three Liberal cabinet ministers and two other caucus members took stands against the deal.
After the ministers went public with their views, the government of Premier Shawn Graham disclosed that it had negotiated an amended agreement with Quebec.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
New Brunswickers protest sale of NB Power