Nfld. & Labrador

Manitoba review of Muskrat Falls imminent

An external review of the controversial plan to tap power at Muskrat Falls on Labrador's Churchill River should be delivered this week.

An external review of the controversial plan to tap power at Muskrat Falls on Labrador's Churchill River should be delivered this week, setting the stage for public hearings that organizers admit will not be complete.

Manitoba Hydro was commissioned to determine whether the Muskrat Falls proposal is the cheapest way to deliver electricity to the domestic market on the island.

The report is expected at the Public Utilities Commission by the end of January.

The PUB, meanwhile, is expected to roll out details later this week of the public consultations it will hold on the Muskrat Falls proposal, even though PUB chair Andy Wells has already said the regulator will not be able to do province-wide hearings and still meet a March 31 deadline.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has refused to extend the PUB's deadline, even though Nalcor and Halifax-based Emera Inc. said last week they could not meet their own deadline of Jan. 31 for completing the term sheet for the $6.2-billion hydro project.

Given its time constraints, the PUB will be holding consultations only in the St. John's area, although the board has been working to see if it can collect opinions from residents and groups in other areas.

Nalcor CEO Ed Martin said while there is now an indefinite deadline for completing the term sheet, both proponents are committed to reaching sanction for the project this year.

Nalcor plans to build a power station at Muskrat Falls, near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and generate 824 megawatts of electricity that would be transmitted by lines and subsea cables to Newfoundland. As much as 40 per cent of the power would be exported, again through subsea cables, to Nova Scotia, where Emera can sell it to domestic and other markets.

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