Government gets down to details of Muskrat Falls

James McLeod
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Premier Kathy Dunderdale (centre) sanctioned the Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity project Monday night. Here she is flanked by Ed Martin (left) and Jerome Kennedy.

The morning after Premier Kathy Dunderdale formally sanctioned the Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity project, government officials are now getting down to the details.

In a series of technical briefings to reporters and politicians, the government laid out the details of legal agreements and the fine print of the deal to develop Muskrat Falls. While cabinet has given the project a green light, and Crown corporation Nalcor is going full bore with the project, the fight has shifted to the House of Assembly, where politicians are bracing for a filibuster of Muskrat Falls-enabling legislation.

Officials painted the legal agreement between Nalcor and Nova Scotia utility Emera as an ironclad, legal agreement that envisions all possibilities to make sure that the plan to develop Muskrat Falls and the associated maritime link transmission cable will go ahead.

When it comes to the legislation, the government is bringing in two key bills, one which deals with cutting the Public Utilities Board (PUB) out of the electricity rate-setting process for all of the project costs associated with Muskrat Falls. Essentially, the PUB is forced to build all of the costs for Muskrat Falls into the final rate price charged to consumers.

The second piece of legislation deals with creating the necessary legislative framework for the easement required for the transmission line from Labrador, across Newfoundland to Soldier's Pond just outside of St. John's.

At its core, Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy said, all of this is about “certainty” for the project when the government goes to borrow money on the open market. Nalcor wants to start going to the financial markets in January, so these pieces of legislation need to be passed as soon as possible.

But opposition parties are already saying they'll filibuster the legislation, which raises the possibility of MHAs sitting in the House on Christmas Eve or even later.

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, House on Christmas Eve

Geographic location: Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Richard
    December 18, 2012 - 22:37

    Better stock up on 9 volt batteries before the government makes them illegal.

  • edfromred
    December 18, 2012 - 21:21

    Why is it that when I see the photo accompanying this story I keep hearing the "Empire March" theme from Star Wars? A leader who ignored calls to investigate Burton Winters tragic death is one I don't trust with our future. If we could harness the power of arrogance for energy, this govenrment and it's cronies could supply the world with electricity.

  • J Thomas
    December 18, 2012 - 19:07

    Is it still a democracy in NL or is the old fish merchant system alive and well in 2012? Pensions and salaries cut ,layoffs of teachers ,public servants and nurses . School & fish plant closures ,long bus rides for students. Hospitals that still aren't built. Corner Brook pulp and paper nearing closure and aboriginal rights ignored in Labrador. Forget a referendum or scrutiny by the PUB . Spend all cash reserves on Muskrat Falls and forget those living in or near poverty in these so-called have times. Power bills are going up and taxes will increase excessively over the next few years. Deficits of 3/4 of a billion dollars and bigger deficits to come! Where is the reason to celebrate Muskrat Falls unless you are a politician getting a golden pension after only 8 years and salary increases as recommended by a retired judge. Also you could be a millionaire and former premier or a CEO of a mining company or a rich LT. Governor who doesn't have to worry about putting food on their table or trying to heat their home. Sorry Kathy we are not all singing along to your song because we are too busy working for a living and trying to make ends meet.

  • Fred Penner
    December 18, 2012 - 17:20

    It took 30 years for the people to pay for Bay d'espoir but we got there....we all didn't perish from hunger! Now, Bay d'espoir is an asset for the province. We will get there for MF as well.

  • James G. Learning
    December 18, 2012 - 16:46

    So, is this tax grab, a tax grab with no holes barred, after all regulation barriers have been removed?

  • Eli
    December 18, 2012 - 15:53

    You mean NOW they're getting down to brass tacks on the details. After sanctioning? Jeeez, they're all rife for Waterford.

  • manitoba rate payer
    December 18, 2012 - 14:04

    this women premier couldn't run a lemonade stand let alone being a leader/premier of a province. its all about her legacy, she will go down in history as the premier who made a laughing stock out of taxpayers. you can see it yesterday @ her sanction ceremony speech that she as no clue about the cost of hydro projects and how they are run. MERRY CHRISTMAS !

  • Cold future
    December 18, 2012 - 12:56

    This is the part of the government statements relating to legisative changes that is most puzzling "protect rate payers against additional costs and higher rates". How can putting in place changes to make the taxpayer/ratepayer captive to pay for all the costs of Nalcor for Muskrat (no matter how high the cost) be considered a protection against additional costs and higher rates. Sanction basicly locks up the ratepayers and the enabling legislative changes effectively throws away the keys.On top of all that having the present government crowd involved with lands expropriation and easements is not very comforting from a cost and ratepayer point of view.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 18, 2012 - 12:46

    That should have read "unaffordable" Muskrat Falls project.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 18, 2012 - 12:34

    I see that the day after her 'sanctioning?' of this unneeded, affordable Muskrat Falls project, in the House of Assembly today --- she is wearing black.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 18, 2012 - 12:03

    The proposed legislative changes prevent any private sector development of power generation on the island that could undercut Muskrat Falls' prices for the next 50 years ---- WHOSE BEST INTEREST IS GOVERNMENT LOOKING OUT FOR?