Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in N.L. considered commissioned: CEO

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Global News at 6 Halifax: April 11
Global News at 6 Halifax from April 11, 2023 – Apr 11, 2023

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project is considered commissioned after years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns.

Jennifer Williams, CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, made the announcement Wednesday to reporters in St. John’s following a weekend of successful final testing. The project, she said, will be declared officially commissioned in the near future after paperwork is completed with the federal government.

Williams said the project passed the final round of high-power testing over the weekend on the 1,100-kilometre Labrador-Island Link. That transmission system runs from the Muskrat Falls site in Labrador to a converter station outside St. John’s.

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“It’s a huge moment and I know the whole province has been waiting for it for quite some time,” Williams said. “I literally was crying … this weekend when this (testing) was all happening.”

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Muskrat Falls was officially approved in 2012 with an initial price tag of around $7.4 billion, which has ballooned to more than $13 billion.

The Crown utility said in a news release on Saturday that it had completed its second 700-megawatt high-power pole test, adding that it was pleased with the link’s performance. The high-power testing is meant to determine if the link can smoothly deliver high volumes of power to the province’s grid.

A previous round of high-power tests using 700 megawatts failed last November, leaving about 58,000 people in the dark for up to 25 minutes. The utility said last month that the software problem behind that failure had been fixed.

Williams said the final cost of the project would be determined in the next few months.

“We now have to finish our (power) rate-mitigation plan with the provincial government and that will take us another few months,” she said. “There will be more to say on how the rates will evolve over time.”

The utility’s next general rate application, which will include the cost of Muskrat Falls power, won’t be made with the provincial regulator until sometime next year, Williams said.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2023.

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