The decision for the government and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (NLH) to develop the scheme was made following the assessment of proposals short-listed last year from the Expressions of Interest and Proposals process.

The government had originally shortlisted three potential developers for the site from 25 submissions received. However, Williams said it became clear that a Newfoundland and Labrador-led development presented the best option to realise the project’s objectives.

‘Never before has such serious consideration been given to the province leading the development of this resource,’ said Williams. ‘Previous development was always contemplated in the context of an external partner joining with the province. This typically resulted in Newfoundland and Labrador being left with less than acceptable benefits and profits from the development of our own resource. Today marks a turning point in our history as we acknowledge that we as a province are capable of leading and having full control of this process.’

Williams indicated the decision for a Newfoundland and Labrador-led development is only the next step in a long process. Further decisions will be made on the construction of the project in the coming months. There also remains further analysis of the various key elements and negotiations before a final decision can be made that will lead to the sanctioning of the project.

With NLH leading the planning process, efforts will continue to determine the project’s financial, technical and environmental feasibility. At this point, all development options are still being reviewed including project configuration, transmission routes, and markets. However, a planning schedule has been developed that will see a project sanctioning decision by 2009 and potentially first power by 2015. Therefore, activity is taking place on several fronts including negotiations with the Innu Nation of Labrador on an Impact and Benefits Agreement (IBA) and laying the groundwork for the comprehensive environmental review process leading to the filing of an Environmental Impact Statement by the fall of 2007.

Furthermore, NLH continues to assess all market access options including monitoring the progress of its application to Hydro-Quebec TransEnergie that will allow power from the Lower Churchill project to be transmitted from the Labrador/Quebec border to markets in Quebec, Ontario, US northeast and the Maritimes.

If given the go-ahead, the scheme, which would reportedly cost between $6-9M, will generate electricity from Gull Island and Muskrat Falls on the river, and will power 1.4M households a year.

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