FREDERICTON - The controversial deal to sell major NB Power assets to Hydro-Quebec is expected to be the focus when New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham delivers his annual state of the province address today.
Graham has staked his political future on the $3.2-billion plan that would see Hydro-Quebec get New Brunswick's hydro, diesel and nuclear generating stations and their transmission exports into the United States.
Although the deal has been watered down from the original plan announced last fall, the government still faces strong public opposition.
A protest has been organized for outside the 1,000-seat dinner on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton, and security has been stepped up as a result of concerns that someone may try to disrupt the premier's speech.
Graham maintains the deal with Quebec is the best way to ensure lower power rates in the province and remove the financial risk associated with upgrading the power plants in the future.
The deal would see a five-year power rate freeze for homeowners and an immediate 23 per cent cut in power rates for large industries.