[HALIFAX, NS] — The province’s Tory leader sparked an emergency debate at the legislature Tuesday, accusing the government of blindly committing to the multibillion-dollar Muskrat Falls electricity project at the expense of rate payers.
“This is a 50-year, seven-and-a-half billion dollar decision,” said Jamie Baillie. “Nova Scotians are going to be paying for their share for a generation. This government committed and signed the dotted line and they’re asking questions later.
“That is wrong. I’m calling an emergency debate in the legislature because Nova Scotians should rightly look to their government to stand up for them to protect their pocket books.”
The debate Tuesday came on the same day the province revealed details of the federal government’s $1.3 billion loan guarantee for the Maritime Link — Nova Scotia’s commitment to the Newfoundland based megaproject.
The commitment, according to the province, is expected to decrease burrowing costs — which will be transferred to ratepayers — by $100 million.
Last week Emera, the company proposing to build the link, announced a sharp increase to the estimated cost of the project to $1.5 billion, from $1.2 billion.
The proposed project costs in Newfoundland and Labrador have also risen.
Premier Darrell Dexter has remained steadfast in his support for the project, arguing it’s the best alternative for ratepayers and the environment.
But Baillie said the premier couldn’t accurately predict the cost to ratepayers since he doesn’t know how much it will cost to produce the electricity.
“We don’t know how much the project is going to cost to begin with. How can you agree to a project when they don’t know what it means for consumers?”
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil took his criticism of Dexter’s support for the project a step further.
“Actually he’s shooting in the dark,” said McNeil. “He’s allowing Nova Scotia Power and Emera to call the shots. He’s not showing any leadership; he’s allowing these companies to be the energy department.”