N.S. delivers draft regulations for Muskrat Falls

The Nova Scotia government has just released its terms for an independent review of its part of the multi-billion-dollar Muskrat Falls power project.

The plan to deliver hydroelectricity from Labrador via an undersea cable needs Utility and Review Board approval, to determine whether it is a good deal for Nova Scotia taxpayers.

The draft regulations state that the UARB must approve the project if it represents the lowest-cost long-term alternative for Nova Scotia ratepayers. And the regulations say if a formal application is made by the end of the month, a ruling by the UARB is required within six months.

The province is convinced the deal will help meet its legally mandated renewable energy targets, and stabilize Nova Scotian power bills for 35 years.

Nova Scotia Power's parent company Emera has an agreement in principle with Nalcor of Newfoundland. Emera will invest $1.2 billion, in exchange for 20 per cent of the electricity generated by the project. The final details of the deal are still in negotiations.

If the UARB approves, Emera would have to provide detailed designs and updated cost estimates by the end of 2013. Power could be flowing through the undersea cable four years later.

But before Nova Scotians receive any of that energy, the UARB would have to hold a new hearing, so the power company could get a new rate, to cover its costs.

The draft regulations will be open for public comment until Aug. 3.