Premier Kathy Dunderdale said the final Muskrat Falls cost estimates will be released within a week or so.
At the Atlantic Mayor’s Congress Thursday in Conception Bay South, Dunderdale wouldn’t be nailed down on specifics, but she said the government is on schedule to release the so-called “Decision Gate 3” numbers by the end of the month.
“Your deadline is coming up. Will they be released before the end of the month?” Kathy Dunderdale was asked.
“Yes,” she said during the sod-turning ceremony for the new arena in C.B.S.
“Can you say when?” she was asked.
“No. They will be released very shortly. We’re getting down to crossing the Ts and dotting the Is, making sure the information is colated properly and that it can be distributed properly so everyone can have fair and equal access to it, and we’re all prepared for the discussion that is going to ensue after the release,” Dunderdale said.
This represents another delay for the Muskrat Falls project.
At one time, the final cost estimates were expected to be drawn up by June or July. As recently as Sept. 26, Dunderdale said she expected the final cost estimates and details of a federal loan guarantee to be finished in mid-October, which would allow for a special debate in the House of Assembly “before the month of October is done.”
Dunderdale changed tack on the specifics of the federal loan guarantee as well. The provincial government will have to borrow billions to finance the Muskrat Falls project, and a federal guarantee will lower interest rates.
The savings could be on the order of $600 million.
“We're pretty close on the loan guarantee and we know the numbers — the range of numbers we’re talking about. Before all of this
is concluded we’ll have the loan guarantee in hand,” Dunderdale said.
“Before the debate is concluded the loan guarantee numbers will certainly be part of it.”
In September Dunderdale said the details of the loan guarantee would be part of the package of cost estimates provided to the public ahead of the special debate in the House of Assembly.
It will take at least two or three weeks for opposition parties to study the details compiled by independent consultant Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) before they hold the special debate in the House.
So even if the final Decision Gate 3 numbers are released today or early next week, the soonest a debate in the House could get underway is the week of Nov. 12.
As for the plans for the debate on Muskrat Falls in the House of Assembly, Dunderdale said that’s underway as well.
“The House leaders are talking to one another about the procedures we are going to follow. Once we release the Decision Gate 3 numbers and the MHI report, the clock will start ticking then. So they’re talking about how much time between the release of information and the opening of the House so that discussion is between them,” she said.
On the specifics of the Decision Gate 3 numbers, though, Dunderdale was still playing coy.
“I’m not telling you when. Before the end of the month, so within the next several days,” said Dunderdale.