Nfld. & Labrador

Peckford presses Dunderdale on Muskrat risks

Brian Peckford is calling on Kathy Dunderdale to prove that two recent developments do not pose a serious risk to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

Former Newfoundland and Labrador leader Brian Peckford is calling on Premier Kathy Dunderdale to prove that two recent developments, including a Hydro-Québec court challenge, do not pose a serious risk to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

"This is a multi-billion-dollar project with huge risks as these latest actions validate," Peckford wrote in an open letter released early Thursday morning.

Peckford, who called in 2012 for an independent review of Muskrat Falls, told Dunderdale he is particularly concerned about Hydro-Québec's decision to seek a court ruling on whether it is receiving its due through the 1969 Upper Churchill contract.

Brian Peckford has raised new concerns about the Dunderdale government's handling of the Muskrat Falls megaproject. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

As well, Peckford said he was concerned about the consequences of a decision by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, which approved the subsea Maritime Link that will run Muskrat power from southern Newfoundland to Cape Breton.

However, the UARB made its approval conditional on Nalcor Energy providing a guarantee that additional energy can be provided at a market price.

"I think the people of the province need to be reassured that the government is firmly in control of this project and that these latest two developments do not in any way heighten the risks and jeopardize the viability of the project," Peckford wrote.

Peckford appeared to question Dunderdale's reaction to Hydro-Québec's court challenge. Earlier this week, Dunderdale called it a "desperate move."

"If you have legal opinions that the Quebec action is really frivolous then I think you have an obligation to make these opinions public," wrote Peckford, a Progressive Conservative who served as Newfoundland and Labrador premier from 1979 to 1989. Peckford now lives in British Columbia, where he has been active as an energy consultant.

"The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board decision seems to mean that additional undertakings will have to be made thereby potentially changing the present arrangements. Do such changes impact the project or province in any way?" Peckford wrote.

"Furthermore, the people need to know the cost of this project today including the interest cost during construction."