Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador expected to sanction Muskrat Falls project

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is set to make an announcement today on the $7.5 billion Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

Kathy Dunderdale said last week that formal approval of the project — which is set to be the largest public expenditure in provincial history — was imminent.

She`s expected to sanction the joint venture between Newfoundland Crown corporation Nalcor Energy and Nova Scotia private equity firm Emera when she speaks to the media this evening.

The hydro megaproject in Labrador is expected to cost the province at least $6.2 billion. The development includes construction of a subsea cable that would link Newfoundland with Nova Scotia.

The provincial government has called the Muskrat Falls project an investment with projected dividends of more than $20 billion over 50 years starting in 2017.

The project would bring hydro power from the lower Churchill River in Labrador to Newfoundland and then Nova Scotia.

Critics have argued the pricey project has not cleared a single independent, regulated review.

Dunderdale`s response has been that Muskrat Falls received the endorsement of global energy consultants, though they were hired and paid by her government. She has refused further review by the provincial Public Utilities Board since it declined last spring to endorse Muskrat Falls, saying it lacked updated information.

The majority Progressive Conservative government has also refused Liberal opposition demands for a special debate or committee format that would include questioning expert energy witnesses.

The project got a boost last month when Ottawa offered a federal loan guarantee for the project that would cut borrowing costs by about $1 billion.

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