Nfld. & Labrador

Rate mitigation talks ongoing over weekend: Ball

Premier Dwight Ball told reporters on Friday conversations between both governments are continuing after a week of "considerable advancement."

Premier wouldn't confirm 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour

This is the spillway and north dam at Muskrat Falls, pictured in late September. (Nalcor Energy)

The January deadline to have a rate mitigation plan in place for Muskrat Falls between the provincial and federal governments has come and gone.

However, Premier Dwight Ball told reporters on Friday conversations between both governments are continuing after a week of "considerable advancement."

"We're not quite there yet. We'll be working through the weekend with officials," he said.

The Public Utilities Board report on rate mitigation is expected to be submitted to government by Friday afternoon. Ball said the plan is to release it as soon as it's received. The premier added he will also take the weekend to review the report, insisting that both governments are still committed to a rate mitigation plan.

"This is a big task that we've taken on. A lot of work has been done, as I've said. A lot of this involves many of the financial constructs that are in place on the Muskrat Fall project," Ball said.

"We all know the profound impact that it would have on our province, the impact on rates ... Hopefully through the weekend we'll have an update that we can provide early next week."

Premier Dwight Ball said the province and federal government are still working on a rate mitigation deal and will continue to discuss throughout the weekend. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Ball said Muskrat Falls, for all intents and purposes, is completed aside from having software hiccups and issues with the synchronous condensers at Soldiers Pond where DC power from Muskrat Falls will be converted to AC power then distributed to homes and businesses across the province.

According to Ball electricity can still flow over the transmission lines without the condensers in place, but if that were the case it would mean that the project would not be running at 100 per cent.

Ball wouldn't say that the original plan for rate payers to pay 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour is still the target for the mitigation plan, but the premier did say the province is moving forward with the plan the Liberals ran an election on. 

Risk assessment 

Before a rate mitigation plan can be put in place, Ball said the government needs to figure out what risks are involved as the project comes online, the value of those risks and then a rate mitigation plan that could provide for that level of variability. 

"This is where it gets a little tangly, and not always easy to find the exact answers," he said.

Ball said Nalcor is trying to quantify what the risks from the project would be. He added that the company is aware that risks exist, as are the provincial and federal governments. He says it isn't being ignored and admits that any risk could have an impact on electricity rates.

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With files from Peter Cowan and Anthony Germain