On October 30th, the provincial government announced that the Muskrat Falls price tag is now $7.4 billion. That’s $1.2 billion more than the previous estimate. Despite the extra cost to taxpayers, many in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area still feel that the project is worth the money.
It’s bound to be more. These projects always become more,” says Michael Tremaine, who’s been a Goose Bay resident for more than 30 years. “It will probably be a $10 billion dollar project when it’s all over. I’d be happy if it’s $10 billion. It’d be worth it.”
Tremaine remembers Politian’s talking about Muskrat falls as far back as 1978. He thinks it’s time to stop debating the project and move it forward.
“Look at the money Quebec is putting into James Bay,” he says. “They know they’ll need the power…don’t we need more power in Newfoundland and Labrador for development?”
Lake Melville MHA Keith Russell also hasn’t been dissuaded by the news. He is still backing the project and is not surprised that the estimates have gone up.
“I felt it was defiantly reasonable,” he says. “It’s not a lot of money for a project of this size.”
Russell explained that the new costs are mainly for reinforcing infrastructure, such as towers and cable lines, to make sure they will be resistant to Labrador weather.
“When you provide estimates for a project, costs change,” he says.
“[But] hydro has shown to be the best option…we do need the power.”
But not everyone in the Lake Melville area is so supportive of the project. Long time resident Clarice Blake Rudkowski has been against the project from the beginning. The price increase has only solidified her position.
“I still think it’s not viable,” says Rudkowski. “I’m very distrustful of the reports from the government. I don’t think it’s a good job economically. I don’t want to see the project under any circumstance…and now with the extra cost to taxpayers, it’s just not a project I can support.”
Another Happy-Valley Goose Bay resident, Pascal McFadden, shrugs off the new price of Muskrat Falls. The former owner of Frenchie’s Service Centre believes the $7.4 billion dollar project is needed to keep power rates affordable for Labradorians.
“If people think power rates won’t go up…they’re dreaming,” he says.
McFadden believes the project will go through, and it’s in the taxpayer’s best interest for it to happen sooner rather than later.
“If you wait longer, it’ll cost more. The longer you wait the more it will cost.”
Happy Valley-Goose Bay mayor Leo Abbass believes that, despite the price increase, the Muskrat Falls project is still the best option economically.
“I would say, from everything I’ve read, this is the least cost option, and we need the power,” says Abbass.
Abbass claims that, if the project doesn’t happen, it could have negative consequences for the economy.
“If we do nothing, what kind of future do we face?” He asks. “I would be concerned with the amount of exploration and mining going on. I don’t think we’d have the power to give them the energy that they need.”
Keith Russell is also concerned with how people will get their power if Muskrat falls doesn’t happen. He believes that without the hydro project, there will be a heavy reliance on oil-fuelled power from Newfoundland.
Clarice Blake Rudkowski, however, doesn’t think the need for power is so dire and that people are exaggerating its urgency.
“It’s been pointed out that there’s still plenty of power from the island that can meet those needs,” she says. “I think Muskrat Falls is just a legacy project for the polictians.”