Office of the Premier

Expert panel to examine proposed energy agreement (09/11/20)

NB 1855

Nov. 20, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - An independent advisory panel will examine the proposed energy agreement with Hydro-Québec, Premier Shawn Graham announced today. The six-person panel will offer expert advice to the provincial government about whether the proposal represents the best interests of New Brunswickers.

The Advisory Panel on the Proposed New Brunswick / Québec Electricity Transaction will have access to all the resources and information it requires to examine the proposal and submit a report to the premier by mid-January 2010. The report will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly in the new year.

"Our government is confident that this proposed agreement would benefit all New Brunswickers in every region of our province," said Graham. "At the same time, we want to ensure the concerns of New Brunswickers are addressed."

David Ganong has agreed to serve as chairman of the panel. John McLaughlin, Elizabeth Weir, Allison McCain, Louis Lapierre and Gilles Lepage will serve as members. The panel will examine the following aspects of the proposal:

"Many New Brunswickers have indicated they have questions about the proposed agreement, and they want assurances that it is the best possible deal for our province in the short- and long-term," said Ganong. "This panel will compare the benefits and risks of continuing to own and operate NB Power with those of outlined in the memorandum of understanding."


EDITOR'S NOTES: Premier Shawn Graham will be available to the media, following his meeting with Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz, around 3 p.m. TODAY in the office of the government house leader, Room 18, at the Legislative Assembly. Following are brief biographies of the panel's members and the terms of reference of the panel. To arrange interviews with David Ganong, panel chairman, call Mary Moszynski, Communications New Brunswick, 506-444-3153. MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Andrée Bolduc, communications, Office of the Premier, 506-444-2286.

Biographies of the members of the advisory panel

David Ganong, chairman of Ganong Bros. Ltd. He has led an extensive business career in New Brunswick and has served on numerous provincial and national boards. He is a member of the Opinion Leaders Forum on Climate Change; sits on the board of governors of the University of New Brunswick; and is director of the Canadian Council of Chief Executive Officers.

John McLaughlin, president of the University of New Brunswick from 2002 to 2009. He has an academic background in engineering and institutional economics. He has been a leader in building the North American geomatics industry and has worked extensively internationally, in more than 40 countries, with the World Bank, the United Nations and several other international agencies and companies.

Elizabeth Weir, president and chief operating officer of Efficiency NB since it was launched in 2005. Prior to that appointment, she was leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party and was the MLA representing Saint John Harbour from 1991 to 2005.

Allison McCain, chairman of the board of McCain Foods Ltd. since November 2002. He has more than 30 years of business experience. In February 2004, he was appointed chair of the Forging our Futures fundraising campaign that raised more than $100 million for the University of New Brunswick. He was appointed a governor of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 2004 and as chair of the board in 2008.

Louis LaPierre, professor emeritus in biology at the Université de Moncton and the past K.C. Irving Chair in Sustainable Development. He has dedicated the past three decades working with a variety of groups committed to protecting the environment.

Gilles Lepage served as president and chief executive officer of the Mouvement des caisses populaires acadiennes from 1994 to 2004. He has participated in numerous forums that examined the economic development and quality of life in New Brunswick, including the McKelvey-Lévesque commission on the cost of health care in the province. He also served as co-chairman of the provincial government's Self-Sufficiency Task Force.

Terms of reference:

Advisory Panel Examining the Proposed New Brunswick / Québec Electricity Transaction

1. The advisory panel will provide independent advice to the premier as to whether the proposed commercial transaction is in the best interests of New Brunswick. In addition to such other matters as the panel may deem relevant, it will compare the benefits and risks of continuing to own and operate NB Power with those of selling it to Hydro-Québec.

2. The panel will address the following concerns that have been raised by New Brunswickers:

(i) Does this transaction make financial sense?

(ii) After the five-year freeze on residential rates expires in 2015, what are long-term residential rates expected to be compared to what NB Power would charge?

(iii) How does this transaction impact New Brunswick's ability to establish its own energy policy, control future transmission development, and set environmental goals?

(iv) What are the short- and long-term risks (and avoided risks) of the proposed transaction compared to what they would be if NB Power were retained as a Crown corporation? Among the risks to be considered are those associated with environmental and climate change, future legislative compliance, fuel cost escalation, inflation, decommissioning of fossil and nuclear plants, interest rates, capital expenditures, etc.

(v) What are the economic benefits to New Brunswick? What are the economic costs?

3. The panel will commence its work by being fully briefed on the background to the MOU and its terms, and it will be kept apprised of developments as the MOU is converted into more definitive agreements and draft legislation.

4. In order to complete its work in an expeditious and thorough manner, the panel will have access to all available information it requires as well as to the frank opinions of all those involved in the proposed transaction.

5. The panel will submit its report by mid-January 2010 to the premier, who in turn will table the report in the legislature.

6. The panel will be supported by a secretariat with resources appropriate to the task.