Fredericton — NB Power is taking a plunge in an effort to retire their enormous debt. On Monday, NB Power revealed an ambitious new option for the Mactaquac refurbishment, one that promises to literally create new revenue streams for the Crown corporation.
As part of the upcoming multi-billion-dollar restoration, NB Power will transform a portion of the hydroelectric dam into an “epic” waterslide open to the public, said NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas.
“I’ll be honest, we are running out of ideas here,” confessed Thomas. “NB Power had $5 billion in debt already, and in the past 4 years we’ve only paid off about 3 percent of that. Lepreau went $1 billion over budget, and now it needs more refurbishment. On top of that, Mactaquac is going to cost $2 to $5 billion more to refurbish, so we need to make some money off of this thing any way we can.”
Mactaquac, the largest hydroelectric dam in the Maritimes, provides 10 to 15 percent of the province’s electrical generation needs. It is the province’s only “black start” facility, which can provide power to start all other power generation in the event of a large-scale outage. The dam was originally planned to have a 100-year life span. However, it now has about 12 years left due to unexpected swelling and cracking of the concrete spillways.
Aside from turning the spillways into immense waterslides, the “Magic Mactaquac Water Park” would also turn the dammed Saint John River in a gigantic “Lazy River” where people float around aimlessly. “Considering the health statistics, let’s just say we think it will be popular with New Brunswickers,” winked Thomas.
When pressed for other ideas, Thomas shrugged. “Hey, the best idea we’ve had so far is to pretty up this joint enough that someone will buy us.
“If some sucker is gullible enough to do that, I say we go for it.”
An artist’s rendition of the planned “Magic Mactaquac Water Park.”