Chiefs scrambled off to an emergency meeting in Montreal last week to discuss a partnership deal with Hydro-Quebec on the proposed 1,280-megawatt Eastmain-Rupert hydro-electric project.

Out of six Cree communities affected, four to five chiefs could be on board with the deal, according to reports.

Hydro wants to divert the Rupert River into the Eastmain River, where a 624-square-kilometre reservoir would be built.

About 90 per cent of the Rupert’s flow would be cut off at the diversion point, while downriver, the river’s flow would be cut by half at the river’s mouth.

Hydro bosses flew up to four Cree communities in August and September to sell the idea that Crees invest their own money in the $2.2-$3 billion project, in exchange for a cut of the profits.

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come apparently wanted to hold a special general assembly of the Cree Nation early next year to discuss the unprecedented offer.

But that idea may not fly. The chiefs of the affected communities have signalled that they don’t want to involve the Grand Council of the Crees in their deal, according to reports. And, depending on how fast the chiefs proceed, there may not be enough time to hold an assembly.

Since the Hydro visits, the communities haven’t seen much consultation about the landmark partnership offer. Details at this point are still sketchy about the deal, and we haven’t received any reports on what happened at the chiefs’ meeting.

The grand chief and most of the chiefs we called weren’t available for comment.We also couldn’t reach anyone at Hydro-Quebec.

The Grand Council apparently wanted to do an independent economic review of the deal, but this idea may have been shot down. It isn’t known if the chiefs have commissioned an independent review of Hydro’s offer by a qualified energy economist.

The Hydro offer would see Crees invest their own money in the project, but where would the money come from? The Board of Compensation? The James Bay Eeyou Board? It isn’t known.

The deal would see power from the so-called “EM-1” project sold at a fixed price to Hydro-Quebec forever, according to reports, with the sales starting at 2.2 to 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. This price is well below the 4.5 cents Quebec consumers pay, or the 15-plus cents paid by the Americans at peak consumption periods.

Power from EM-1 can’t be sold to any other buyer for a different price, according to our information about the offer.

Because of the low price, the profits are expected to be quite low, too. We couldn’t get any precise figures, but the deal doesn’t look like a gold mine by any means, from what we know. It may be worth less than $200,000 a year to the Crees, in exchange for a $20 million investment, for example.

Hydro-Quebec, on the other hand, stands to make lots of money on the project,because the Eastmain and Rupert waters will be flowing not only through theEM-1 turbines, but also at LG-2 and LG-1. Then Hydro can turn around and resellthe EM-1 power for much more in Quebec or abroad. What is the project really worthto Hydro? This informa-tion also isn’t available.