Premier doesn't know how much electricity from Muskrat Falls will cost
HALIFAX. NS - Today in the Legislature, PC Leader Jamie Baillie will introduce An Act to Provide for the Independent Review of Certain Capital Projects. The purpose of the bill is to protect taxpayers and electricity ratepayers from being forced to foot the bill for expensive mega-projects.
“A responsible government would not commit Nova Scotians to this type of project without a public cost-benefit analysis,” said Baillie. “Our legislation will make it the law that a project such as Muskrat Falls be thoroughly examined before taxpayers’ money is spent or electricity ratepayers are handed a bill.”
Today, in the Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee, the Chair of the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board confirmed that a megaproject such as Muskrat Falls may not come before the UARB prior to its construction. Peter Gurnham indicated that current legislation does not require the UARB to fully examine the project and its impact on power rates.
This statement directly contradicts previous assertions made by Premier Dexter that the Muskrat Falls project would be reviewed by the UARB.
In February, the Premier told media why he won’t proceed with a cost
-benefit analysis of the Muskrat Falls project: "Why would we go to the expense of doing that when it's going to be done in an appropriate forum before the Utility and Review Board?" Dexter said. "It's their responsibility to do that and my assumption is that they will."
Baillie says the Premier used the UARB as an excuse for avoiding doing his own job.
“The Premier’s job is to protect Nova Scotia electricity ratepayers. Now even that flimsy excuse has been eliminated,” added Baillie. "The Premier has committed Nova Scotia to expensive projects without knowing that cost. He may be willing to take risks like that, but Nova Scotians should not be expected to blindly foot the bill.”
The PC bill ensures that megaprojects, defined as any projects over $100 million, that are funded by taxpayers, must go through an independent cost-benefit analysis before they are permitted to proceed.
The bill also ensures that megaprojects that are proposed by a public utility, such as Nova Scotia Power, must also go through a proper analysis.
In both cases, the Premier will be required to table the results in the House of Assembly for all Nova Scotians to see, before the project can proceed.
The bill also requires that alternative projects be considered so that lower cost projects are identified.