It appears that parts of the proposed hydroelectric megaproject in Muskrat Falls will be exempt from regulation through the Public Utilities Board (PUB). The PUB can normally assess an electricity project, perform a cost-benefit analysis, and even order Nalcor to explore different options in its mandate to determine the cheapest options for providing electricity to Newfoundlanders. But as a result of this exemption, many decisions to be made concerning the size, scale, and cost of the project effectively become policy issues to be dealt with by government officials rather than a regulatory one. Though the Muskrat Falls development has been a point of contention in the House of Assembly – and the revelation of this exemption will only fuel that fire – the exemption was actually created in 1999 under then-Premier Brian Tobin, with the idea that a project of that scope is as much about economic development and government policy as it is electricity rates.
Correction: the digested CBC story reported that the Public Utilities Board would not have the authority to set electrical rates related to power generated at Muskrat Falls. This is inaccurate.