NS: Opposition leaders slam premier for continued support of Muskrat Falls

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Metro Halifax

Estimates for hydroelectric project revised upwards from $6.2 to $7.4 billion

Liberal leader Stephen McNeil says there are cheaper power alternatives to Newfoundland's Muskrat Falls project.

By Andrew Rankin

Opposition leaders say power users will ultimately pay for Premier Darrell Dexter's commitment to the proposed Muskrat Falls power project.

The accusations came during the legislature's question period Tuesday, hours after cost estimates for the hydroelectric project were revised upwards from $6.2 billion to $7.4 billion.

Both Liberal leader Stephen McNeil and Tory leader Jamie Baillie repeatedly asked Dexter whether ratepayers would pay more for their electricity.

Dexter sidestepped the question, arguing that the proposed project offers the most affordable solution to coal-based electricity. The province must shed six of its eight coal generating plants by 2030.

The $7.4 billion doesn't include funding the subsea link between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, to be covered by Nova Scotia utility Emera.

Dexter says he doesn't know what that revised cost will be but said it's 100 per cent privately funded – a point McNeil took issue with.

"Every time he sees big business coming he's left with no clothes," said McNeil.

But the premier shot back at McNeil, accusing the Liberals of trying to deregulate the electricity market, which, he said would cause rates to skyrocket.

A spokeswoman for Emera said the company will provide the cost of the link during hearings before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Baillie chastised the premier for refusing to consider alternative energy sources like natural gas and importing electricity from Quebec.

"He's already made up his mind," said Baillie. "He's made up his mind regardless of the cost."

with files from the Canadian Press

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Quebec

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  • Jervis
    November 03, 2012 - 13:09

    The tie from NB to Nova Scotia will allow for only 300 MW of power that's roughly 2000 MW short of the provinces winter demand! But if all the residences and businesses just turn off their heat and all appliances and then close the pulp mill again we can get under that 300 MW limit. There was a feasibility study done on converting old plants to natural gas and it wasn't feasible. The cost to build a new plant is outrages with land costs on the ocean and environmental gurus will protest and try to pick it apart as it is still a fossil fuel. It's not as easy as some of the people think!

  • honker
    October 31, 2012 - 23:34

    What about a naturalgas fired combined cycle power plan of approx 800 megawatts located in the industrial plant serving NS, NB, and PEI. The cheapest way to generate power and environmentally friendly too, just ask our friends in the US Northeast for example.

  • reg
    October 31, 2012 - 15:30

    Whatever power decisions are made on the east coast, the 2.3 million people here would be better served if their 4 governments worked together. I notice the the decisions in P.Q. are made by one gov. for their 8 million. Keep in mind the liberals were thrown out of Fredericton over their attempt to sell off NB Power to Quebec, and I know the argument here is just to buy the power. If the new project in Labrador makes economic sense, and is backed by the whole region, then go ahead with it, leave out the politics. If it doesn't benefit the people then end it.

  • Cheap Power
    October 31, 2012 - 11:46

    Let me see now---Hydro Quebec is producing hydro power at a little over 2 cents per KWH---Hummm--and Nova Scotia is subsidizing Bay of Fundy Turbine power at 65 cents per KWH as well as subsidizing small scale Wind Turbines at 50 cents per KWH. Wouldn't it be SMART to simply buy power from Quebec Hydro and have it routed through a new New Brunswick line. Kiss and make up please for the citizen's sake. Leaders always like to create their own empire regardless of cost (not their money) and always have.

  • Johnny smoke
    October 31, 2012 - 11:30

    Here's hoping that there is an election and that Dexter and his gang of misfits join with the good ship Bounty. This premier is hell bent on putting this province into the graveyard of escalating debt and double digit power increases. If the project has increased 10% and not a shovel full of dirt has been moved, just imagine what the final costs will be. I for one am fully against the opportunity for the province of Newfoundland to give the finger to hydro Quebec when the upper Churchill reverts back in 2045. That is what this charade is all about, that is why Newfoundland wants a sub sea cable to Nova Scotia, paid for by you and I. If you think that this link is going to be built for $1.6 billion well think again. Get ready for .25-35 cents per kilowatt hour, and that my friends is a low ball figure. However fear not the executive's at N.S.P. will still qualify for their million dollar + pay and bonus packages. That is all that really matters is it not?

  • Think
    October 31, 2012 - 11:28

    The cost of Quebec hydro power is around 2cents per KWH to Quebec Hydro. Here in NS the provincial government is going to subsidize Tidal Turbines in the Bay of Fundy at 65 cents per KWH and small scale Wind Turbines at 50 cents per KWH. Duh----just bite the bullet and buy direct from Quebec via a renewed line through NB. I guess math is not a strong point of our faithful leaders---of course it isn't their money though is it.

    • b myles
      November 02, 2012 - 08:09

      the opposition parties not happy with Dexter's deal to do Muskrat Falls then why don't they defeat the govt and get an election.