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The Lower Churchill project currently involves building a dam at Muskrat Falls on Labrador's Churchill River. (CBC)

Economist Wade Locke is endorsing the Muskrat Falls project as the solution to meet the province's energy needs.

The MUN professor says he compared the project to other options such as natural gas, replacing Holyrood, or a series of smaller-scale energy projects.

Locke concludes that Muskrat Falls is the cheapest and most realistic option.

"Right now, the information that I've looked at, and what's available to me — and I've tried to look at whatever I could — leads me to make the conclusion that this is the best option right now, in the timeframe that we have to make decisions," Locke said Tuesday night.

Public presentation

Locke gave his assessment of the $6.2-billion hydro project during a lengthy presentation at Memorial University.

About 500 people attended the session.

Locke says the Muskrat Falls project will create opportunities for alternative energy development by connecting the island to the North American electricity grid. 

He says the power can also be used to supply pending mining developments in Labrador that may not be able to go ahead without new sources of electricity.

While he supports the project, Locke says the government is making a mistake by not giving the Public Utilities Board more time to the study the hydro proposal.

Locke says refusing the board's request for a 90-day extension only creates doubts about a good project.

"Not extending the public review for the PUB, in my mind, is a problem," Locke said. "It creates suspicion that is unneeded. If they need three more months, give them three more months and let them do it."