11/07/2012 03:06 EST | Updated 01/07/2013 05:12 EST

Muskrat Falls hydro project needed to satisfy growing energy appetite: report

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A report released today by the Newfoundland and Labrador government says the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project is needed to supply energy needs that are expected to rise in the future.

The report says those needs will be driven by projects such as Vale's nickel processing plant in Long Harbour, which is expected to begin production next year.

The $3.6-billion development is anticipated to require 85 megawatts of electricity, and Muskrat Falls would be capable of generating 824 megawatts if it proceeds.

The report also says increased energy demand on the island of Newfoundland and mining developments in Labrador will further underscore the need for Muskrat Falls.

The government has released a series of reports in recent days in efforts to show that Muskrat Falls is a viable project that would stabilize energy rates.

But critics say the government has not proven that case and have called for more thorough debate before sanctioning the development, which is estimated to cost at least $7.4 billion.