Nova Scotia

Emera defends Muskrat's pricetag

The president of Emera Inc. is responding to criticism that the company signed an agreement Tuesday to develop a hydroelectric project in Labrador without knowing the actual price tag of the electricity.

Questions about the deal remain, including costs to consumers

Newfoundland and Labrador Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy signs a Muskrat Falls legal agreement during a ceremony Tuesday in St. John's, accompanied by Nova Scotia counterpart Charlie Parker, Nalcor CEO Ed Martin and Emera CEO Chris Huskilson. (Rob Antle/CBC)

The president of Emera Inc. says a hydroelectric development in Labrador will have a positive impact on the Cape Breton economy, despite criticism that the company inked the agreement without knowing the actual price tag of the electricity.

Nova Scotia Power parent company Emera and Newfoundland utility Nalcor Energy signed a deal Tuesday morning to bring hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls in Labrador to Nova Scotia sometime in 2017.

The project would see an underwater link between Cape Ray, N.L., and Lingan on Cape Breton.

Chris Huskilson, president of Emera, told a Sydney business audience Tuesday the deal will lower costs to consumers and create jobs as it's developed over the next few years.

"There is going to be a tremendous amount of activity that will go on both here in Cape Breton and also on the west coast of Newfoundland and that activity I think is going to be open to businesses," Huskilson said.

"This now gives us some certainty as to what the future looks like, what the emissions will look like, because this is very clean energy. It means that we can ultimately provide incremental lower-cost energy for our customers."

Questions about the deal remain, including the cost of the project, which was initially set at $6.2 billion, and how much the electricity will cost consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

Progressive Conservative MLA Chuck Porter and environmental groups like the Sierra Club said the province should have ordered an independent cost benefit analysis.

Huskilson defends the deal.

"The price is known; it's 20 per cent of the cost of the project for 20  per cent of the energy," Huskilson said. "Nova Scotians are going to get this energy for the cost of the project."

The provinces are still negotiating federal loan guarantees to reduce financing costs, but the partners said they expect the guarantee to materialize.

More information on costs to Nova Scotia consumers is expected in the regulatory phase.