Estimates for hydroelectric project revised upwards from $6.2 to $7.4 billion
© Ryan Taplin/Metro Halifax
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