Brendan Paddick volunteered and was appointed chair of the Nalcor Energy board of directors in 2016. He says he took the position largely because he felt a sense of patriotic duty.
At the Muskrat Falls Inquiry, he said the province can stay the course, relying on a sense of duty to attract potential future board members. The hope then is the pool of candidates coming forward includes individuals with expertise in project management, hydroelectricity, accounting, consumer advocacy and other areas as needed, willing to put in the free time.
“That’s not reasonable, though,” Paddick testified Tuesday. “So when I step down, whenever that is, I can’t imagine you’re getting a chair to come in here and put in that type of hours and effort for nothing.”
There are subsidiaries of Nalcor Energy where the board members receive some compensation for their time. The board for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro gets a retainer and meeting fee, Paddick noted, calling it a modest amount. The board responsible for the Bull Arm Fabrication Site gets half-day and full-day fees.
But the board of parent Nalcor Energy is different.
“These are 11 people — well, absent Stan (Marshall, CEO) — 10 people, who have worked literally hundreds of hours, who have attended hundreds of meetings for virtually no pay for the last two and a half years. Kind of unprecedented, I would think,” he said.
Some current board members have asked the government to start offering compensation.
“Yes, we did ask,” he testified. “Several board members, probably about six months into the process, kind of raised their hand and sort of said, ‘You know, this is a lot more work than I thought it was going to be, or I thought I was signing up for. Is there really no compensation?’”
Paddick said it is just the wrong time to talk about increasing costs at Nalcor.
“We made the request and it was denied,” he said.
He testified the board as it stands today has a good collection of skill sets, despite the volunteer status. He spoke about experience in accounting, business, the public sector, human resources and legal. He mentioned oil and gas experience (although oil and gas operations are being spun out to a separate corporation).
There is less of a need for expertise in megaproject construction at this point. Where there are gaps in knowledge, he said, the board hasn’t hesitated to bring in help, in the form of consultants.
But the compensation remains an issue. And it’s one the previous board raised as well.
“I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be an issue moving forward,” Paddick said.
He couldn’t put a figure to exactly what fair compensation would be, “but I think it’s fair to say zero is not fair,” he said.
The current board of directors of Nalcor Energy, apart from Paddick, are: Geoff Goodyear, Brian Maynard, David Oake, Debbie Molloy, Edna Turpin, Mark MacLeod, Jack Hillyard, Christopher Hickman, John Green and CEO Stan Marshall.