POLITICS

Muskrat Falls hydro deal deadline extended again

01/27/2012 09:16 EST | Updated 03/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Nalcor Energy and Emera Inc. say they need more time to finalize a deal to develop the $6.2-billion Muskrat Falls hydro project.

"We have made significant progress on the agreements and we are nearing completion; however, we will not have all the detailed work completed by Jan. 31 as previously stated," Nalcor CEO Ed Martin said in a statement Friday morning.

Martin said the majority of agreements have been completed, including thousands of pages of contract details.

"Our next steps are to finalize all the detail in the agreements, and complete our internal reviews and due diligence," Martin said.

Emera CEO Chris Huskilson cautioned against reading too much into the delay.

"We understand that there will be some people who will believe this is more significant than it is, and we feel compelled to emphasize that our relationship is strong, the term sheet principles remain and they are guiding our work," he said.

"We continue to make progress and we will ensure that people are informed once we have finalized the agreements."

This is the second time the two companies have missed a deadline to wrap up a deal announced in November 2010.

They initially allotted one year to hammer out the details. But in November 2011, Nalcor and Emera announced they had mutually agreed to extend the deadline for completion of those final agreements for another two months — to Jan. 31.

Friday's announcement pushes that timeline back further.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale says she's not that concerned about Nalcor and Emera's delay.

"The most important thing is to get it right, and that's our No. 1 priority," Dunderdale told reporters on Friday.

Dunderdale said she still expects to see a term sheet from Nalcor and Emera during the spring 2012 session of the province's house of assembly, with plenty of time to discuss it before the session wraps up in May or June.