Newfoundland and Labrador’s two opposition parties are expressing concern about the latest cost estimate for Muskrat Falls.

“We’ve always known this was an expensive project,” Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons told reporters Thursday.

“And what we have here now is an extremely expensive project. This is obviously bad news to the taxpayers of the province.”

According to Nalcor Energy, the Newfoundland and Labrador portion of the hydro megaproject is now projected to cost a shade under $7 billion.

That compares to initial estimates of $5 billion when Muskrat Falls was announced less than four years ago.

Very disconcerting

“The amount the people of this province will have to pay to build Muskrat Falls has increased 40 per cent – a full $2 billion – since this project was first announced, and $800 million in the year and a half since it was sanctioned – and there is no steel up yet,” NDP MHA George Murphy said in a news release.

“No building, no transmission towers, no power lines, and 10 per cent of the contracts have yet to be awarded. I find that very disconcerting.”

Muskrat Falls development graphic

Nalcor Energy is developing the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project with Halifax-based Emera Inc. (Canadian Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador ratepayers will ultimately be responsible for that $7 billion through their electricity bills.

Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin told reporters Thursday that the Crown corporation is still "well within a comfortable envelope of where we expected to be" in terms of costs. 

He said the typical consumer will pay an extra $8 per month because of the increase in construction costs. 

Emera will pay for the $1.5-billion Maritime Link that will ship power to Nova Scotia.

While costs have risen, the project's timelines remain the same, with first power still expected to flow in 2017.