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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Consumers should benefit

Natural gas not considered as a viable alternative?

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, February 2, 2012- Consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador may well be the losers because the government is failing to consider the use of natural gas in electrical power generation. That news from George Murphy, group researcher for the consumer Group for Fair Gas prices and NDP Member of the House of Assembly for St. John’s East.

“In consideration of all the alternatives, the province did not look at the use of natural gas in the generation of electricity, and that could prove to be a bad move for everyone, especially the consumer of heat out there. Besides using it for electrical generation, it would have given consumers another choice in what type of heat they could have been using.” Murphy said.

“There’s several reasons why we could have used that type of thermal generation, none the which could have been that it is Kyoto compliant and relatively clean burning. We could immediately stop the emission of almost 500,000 tons of CO2 and SO2 by-products by making the choice of natural gas. The thermal choice the government is making still keeps the province tied to oil. Right now, I have testimony from places like Alberta and Saskatchewan talking about $60 and $80 winter heating bills, while we have consumers here paying a fortune for heating oil. The choice of an alternative heating source is being taken away that would have also seen a drop in demand for electricity as a result of people converting to the use of natural gas.”

“We could have used gas as a way to start in on a natural gas royalty regime that would not only have brought money into the provincial treasury, but would have been a form of municipal funding as well. Any centre I looked at also put a municipal fee on the gas that means possible lost revenue at a time when municipalities are crying out for it. I won’t even get into the fact that we could have used natural gas to attract industry to the island portion of the province or to coastal Labrador with the development of natural gas fields close to shore there.

“According to Dr. Bruneau’s study of 2005, his numbers equate to natural gas electrical generation as being equivalent to 5 cents a kilowatt hour of electricity, whereas Muskrat falls is quoted as being anywhere between 14.3 and 16.5 cents a kilowatt hour. Why are we not exploring the option of natural gas development? Why is the province anxious to sell costly electricity to us when we could have cheap energy that would attract people and industry to the province rather than see them go the other way because our cost of living is higher?”

“Consider this: If people change their way of heating to natural gas instead of electricity, then you save on the consumption of electricity for heat, thereby dropping demand for electricity in the first place. The price would come down. We get to save our water resources and we still get a new anchor for thermal generation off oil dependency. And because there’s more electricity capacity on the island, you need less wind energy to supplement.”

“I just think that we’re losing out. We have a chance here to save consumers a small fortune, turn what is essentially a waste product into dollars for everyone, generate new revenue for all forms of government and do something positive for the environment at the same time. We have enough gas, according to Bruneau, in the discovered fields of Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova to last a hundred years, and there’s other reserves off our coasts, particularly off Labrador. Why isn’t natural gas being considered as a viable option? I think we’re missing out on an opportunity for people out there to keep money in their pockets.”

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For more information, contact;

George Murphy

Group researcher/Member

Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Twitter: @GeorgeMurphyNDP

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