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Supported a friendly protest group.

Awhile back a few years ago, I supported NB Peoples first. A protest group. It was a friendly group, not doing any damage or disrupting any kind of service. Our local government in New Brunswick was trying to sell our government owned Power Utility to Quebec Hydro. If the deal was good, of course, there was nothing that could have been said. The deal did not seem that great, to the population as a whole.

It was just that the deal at the time, was a bad one for New Brunswickers. Giving 5 billion approx. in energy rebates to industry, and giving 5 billion approx. for the rest of NB Power. Our Nuclear reactor was being retro fitted, and we would hold the bag on that if (Billions of dollars) if it was not repaired right.

To be quite honest, the deal would have went through if Quebec would have given us the same power rates (Residential), as what they get in Montreal, for instance. And just guarantee it. Why treat us different. The Quebec residential consumers were probably getting 2 cents less than in NB.  But, it was not like that. A 5 year rate freeze, for Residential and Commercial Customers. People in this province are getting today, a 3 year rate freeze, and the government of NB owns NB Power.

NB Powers debt might have been approx. 4.8 billion at the time. It is probably a billion higher, due to the refurbishment at the Nuclear Plant. The money would then just pay for the plants (if that), and NB would still be on the hook for the decommissioning of those plants. No crown taxes would be placed on the new Owners installations, from what I understood at that time.

The Auditor General at that time, thought it was a bad deal. NB Power has assets that allow it to pay, for its seemingly high debt. Selling those assets, and then you have nothing to pay for the debt load later on.

The other thing, and the main sticking point, was that the government was reeling in approx. 700 million in taxes from NB Power, approx. per year,  to pay for spending programs. This came out by a business student in Fredericton, who looked over the books. Take away 700 million to the goverment coffers, and you take away 10 or 15 % of their revenue for government programs. Allot of the money was there, to cover debt load, from governmnet loans, ect. Sure, in this case the debt was a good thing. They were paying the government for debt financing, and capital taxes.

This was what it all took, to bring about a change. To stop the deal dead, in its tracks. It was a very unpopular deal, which caused the then sitting government to lose power. In a big way. As you can guess, the deal never went through. The protests, and Quebec Hydro wondered about costs to the hydro water network. NB Power made a profit of 200 million last year, due to high water levels alone.

Sure, the debt level of NB Power is high. But, with proper grid planning, and over 30 years time, it can be cut down to a reasonable amount. Even with the high expense of Pt Lepreau Nuclear Reactor Refurbish, if it runs correctly, it will pay for itself and pay money to the province as well. Calculate it out, at todays going power rates. You hear allot of scare over the retrofit of Mactaquac hydro station, but once repaired, this station can run for 100 years and pay for itself in 20 or 30 years. Water power, is free, after you pay for capital costs.

Now, this Put Peoples First Group wishes to disband. For myself, someone who works shift, I could not be a huge part of this group. It takes allot of travel time, allot of free time, whereas I do not have. Allot of times, their meetings were set on days that I worked. Maybe it is time to let it rest. There are no severe injustices being done by the Government onto its people, so maybe it is time to let lions sleep. I am sure it can be reinvigorated any time, should any people catch wind of a stinky deal. It will be up to them, in their meeting coming up in late April. One thing is for sure, they did to a tremendous job. Great work, NB Peoples First!


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