NS: Premier accused of supporting Muskrat Falls at ratepayers’ expense

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By Andrew Rankin, Metro Halifax

Tory leader Jamie Baillie sparked an emergency debate at the legislature on the same day the province revealed details of the federal government’s $1.3 billion loan guarantee for the Maritime Link.

Tory Leader Jamie Baillie speaks with reporters in this file photo.

[HALIFAX, NS] — The province’s Tory leader sparked an emergency debate at the legislature Tuesday, accusing the government of blindly committing to the multibillion-dollar Muskrat Falls electricity project at the expense of rate payers.

“This is a 50-year, seven-and-a-half billion dollar decision,” said Jamie Baillie. “Nova Scotians are going to be paying for their share for a generation. This government committed and signed the dotted line and they’re asking questions later.

“That is wrong. I’m calling an emergency debate in the legislature because Nova Scotians should rightly look to their government to stand up for them to protect their pocket books.”

The debate Tuesday came on the same day the province revealed details of the federal government’s $1.3 billion loan guarantee for the Maritime Link — Nova Scotia’s commitment to the Newfoundland based megaproject.

The commitment, according to the province, is expected to decrease burrowing costs — which will be transferred to ratepayers — by $100 million.

Last week Emera, the company proposing to build the link, announced a sharp increase to the estimated cost of the project to $1.5 billion, from $1.2 billion.

The proposed project costs in Newfoundland and Labrador have also risen.

Premier Darrell Dexter has remained steadfast in his support for the project, arguing it’s the best alternative for ratepayers and the environment.

But Baillie said the premier couldn’t accurately predict the cost to ratepayers since he doesn’t know how much it will cost to produce the electricity.

“We don’t know how much the project is going to cost to begin with. How can you agree to a project when they don’t know what it means for consumers?”

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil took his criticism of Dexter’s support for the project a step further.

“Actually he’s shooting in the dark,” said McNeil. “He’s allowing Nova Scotia Power and Emera to call the shots. He’s not showing any leadership; he’s allowing these companies to be the energy department.”

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • everready eddy
    December 27, 2012 - 08:06

    Well people dont seem to realize that this deal is actually going to mean great things for Nova Scotia. in 2041 5500 Mgw of Churchill power will become available as the contract ends with Hydro Quebec for Churchill Falls. The transmission line across the cabot strait is only going to carry 500 Mgw. Nova Scotia only needs 2200 MGw. Newfoundlands cost recovery for Churchill falls is a mere quarter cent per kilowatt hour. It is easy to see that this will not be the first and last of transmission cables from Newfoundland and we indeed see power rates stabilize over time as we will no long be subject to fossil fuel prices.

    • honker
      January 12, 2013 - 12:19

      Obviously Mr. everready eddy is willing to guarantee this "Pig in a Poke" project by pledgeing his power rate payments to cover whatever the future true costs may be. Yes, Emera loves people like eddy, for sure. Listen eddy; the crux of all of this is the guarantee you and every other rate payer will have to put up. This is base load power we are talking about. Currently base load power in NS is being generated at less than 4 cents a KWH. Given the numbers now being floated for the NFLD to CB cable alone, the rate will be in excess of 4 cents / KWH. Now add the construction of the Muskrat Dam, the transmission costs through Labrador, the transmission costs across the Strait of Belisle and across NFLD and you have a whopper of a cost for this power delivered to NS. Neer thought about that when you made your comment, did you?

  • Johnny smoke
    December 24, 2012 - 18:26

    Well here is the poop folks like it or not. ex Premier Dexter just signed on to the largest open ended agreement ever contrived in this portion of the world. In his haste to push "Green energy" the green part is the exorbitant cost that will be born by the rate payers of this province guaranteed in order to provide Emera with their 9% rate of return on investment. For starters Emera is charged with the building of a sub sea cable from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, estimated cost $1.7 billion, actual cost after Emera adds in cost of supervision,job delays,wind and waves and let us not forget the 9% return on investment, that $1.7 billion will be at least $1 billion short, to be added to your power bill for infinity . If ex Premier Dexter wants power from the lower Churchill to light up his and province house that is fine, if Newfoundland wants to export their power to the rest of North America and not use the already transmission facilities owed by hydro Quebec that is their choice, in doing so they should also be building and paying for the sub sea link. Emera is not the company that should have any involvement other than to purchase and distribute this power. God only knows that this company has acted like a flock of crows in the past, who in their right mind would charge them with such an undertaking. Ex Premier Dexter, that is who, ant that is why his will be known by that name just as soon as the thinking electorate get all of the facts regarding the deal with the devil and their corporate henchmen.

  • BeatleBailie
    December 10, 2012 - 11:45

    This is one project I agree is a good choice for this province. Yes the cost is great but what will happen if we are connected is Newfoundland and Labrador will have a route for exporting power to the US that will break the slavery deal with HYdro Quebec. The Bad Deal Joey Smallwood signed was a mere quarter cent per Kilowatt hour for 5500 Mgw of power until 2041. Once that contract is up and we have this power link the entire financial position of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is going to change. The Bad deal Smallwood made has given Hydro Quebec 19 billion in profits on Churchill falls compared to a mere one billion for Newfoundland over the the last 40 years. Quebec business and her citizens have benefited not only from cheap power but profited exporting power to the US via an obscene mark up. In Theory this move could be the start of getting both provinces off of equalization payments from Ottawa. @ FEDUPRATEPAYER try New York, New Jersey power rates at 20 per Kilowatt hour.

  • Tim Rhude
    December 05, 2012 - 22:19

    Here goes this guy again running his mouth about things he does not even know about - politicking at its worst! These PC's fail to see that they sold NSP on us and created the debt we have by paving over dirt roads. What are we to do? Listen a last place loser or the other guy Steve and open up the market more private busy to drive the rates up higher. Until someone has the political will to take back what is ours (NSP) I will support and vote for the best proposal on the table "The Falls".

  • Just Noticin
    December 05, 2012 - 11:45

    Odd that Bailey is speaking out against a project his parents, MP Scott Armstrong and PM Steven Harper have guaranteed....those conservatives don't know whether they are coming or going.....i am betting on going.... real soon...

  • FedUpRatePayer
    December 05, 2012 - 10:48

    Does the public realize what a 3% raise every year for the rest of this decade will mean for power rates? The NDP can claim that this deal will stabilize rates and that may be true, but if they are stabilized at such a high price, no one will be able to afford power, companies and investment will leave NS.

  • FedUpRatePayer
    December 05, 2012 - 10:28

    Dexter and the NDP are being railroaded by Emera. The monopoly will make out like a bandit on this deal, at the expense of NS ratepayers as usual. What basis does Dexter have to say that this is the best alternative for NS? What other alternatives have been allowed to be considered? Have they been considered? Where do we find their costs so he can prove this is the best alternative? Why is there no escape clause in the evnt that cheaper alternatives become available in the futire? The NDP say they have to do this project to reduce our dependance on expensive coal fired generation plants. Well back in the day I bet those coal plants were the cheapest option and look at prices now. How can Dexter be so sure that hydro power, under the Emera agreement, will remain the lowest cost power alternative for 35 years? Dexter has no credibility to begin with (we all remember the "no new taxes" campaign pledge) so why should we believe him when he says future costs shouldn't rise anymore because there is better information available now? Will not even better information become availabe the closer they get to construction? Someone has got to stop this madness before we are locked into another long term, high priced fiasco.

  • K. Dunn
    December 05, 2012 - 10:16

    Sorry Mr. Baillie,but this is politicking at its worst. There are several issues you can take the current government to task for, but this is just naysaying for brownie points. What is your alternative to Muskrat Falls? The continued burning of unsustainable fossil fuels (even cleaner natural gas is not entirely clean and presents its own set of problems)? What else? Tidal power? We don't have the technology to harness it yet. We have no hydro power. Wind and solar power can not provide us with enough energy. So what do you propose Mr. Baillie. You have just lost my vote.