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Public Utilities Board to review Newfoundland and Labrador’s electricity costs

Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady said they’re concerned by leakage at a temporary cofferdam at the Muskrat Falls site, and an inability to deploy an ice boom which was planned to protect the construction site from ice damaging the site over the winter. Both Ball and Coady were on the defensive in the House of Assembly Monday from questions on the subject.
Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady - SaltWire Network

Government making special reference on Muskrat Falls

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Public Utilities Board (PUB) is being asked by the provincial government to take a special look at electricity rates, with the aim of keeping them manageable as the costs of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project arrive.

Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady announced the plan for the special reference to the PUB today at Confederation Building in St. John’s.

The reference is being made under the Electrical Power Control Act, and so will not reach into what is now Nalcor Oil and Gas — a business the Liberal government has already announced it is separating from Nalcor Energy.

The PUB will also not look at the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corp. (CFLCo).

A complete plan — including taxpayer involvement — has yet to be provided.

The expectation is the PUB will consider options to manage Muskrat Falls costs up to 2030 or earlier, as the board sees fit; the amount of energy needed from Muskrat Falls to meet Island electrical demand; and what can be done, considering the latest cost estimates for the still-unfinished megaproject on the lower Churchill River.

Nalcor’s power exports and internal costs will be examined in the reference.

The PUB will be asked to look at the potential for increasing electrical load in the province, as well as potential in power exports by controlling demand, and to provide recommendations on options for the future.

The PUB’s recommendations are not binding.

An interim report will be due to the government by Feb. 15, 2019, including statements on any “reasonably anticipated cost savings” and “reasonably anticipated revenue” from exports, according to information provided to reporters.

A final report with recommendations on managing Muskrat Falls costs is due by Jan. 31, 2020.

The government has committed to make the reports public, although a final report is not due until after the next provincial election.

The news conference is ongoing. More to come.

Earlier story:

Premier calls Muskrat Falls mitigation news conference

Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady are set to "make a major announcement on mitigating Muskrat Falls" at 3:00 p.m. NL time.A "major announcement" is set for 3:00 p.m. to discuss details of mitigating Muskrat Falls. 

A tech briefing for media will be offered starting at 2:30 p.m. before the announcement begins. 

Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady will be on hand for the announcement. 

Previously, the premier has announced rate payers and tax payers will both be spared the burden of the $12.7-billion Muskrat Falls project. To date, no details of any plan to make that statement true have been released. 

A live webcast of the announcement will be available at www.gov.nl.ca

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