04/18/2013 01:30 EDT | Updated 06/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia Tories say second report questions value of Muskrat Falls project

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservatives produced a report Thursday that they say casts further doubt on the government's support of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

The move came after the Opposition Liberals tabled a report Wednesday that questioned whether the massive $7.7-billion development — which includes the subsea Maritime Link cable to Newfoundland — is the lowest cost option for the province's residential customers.

The Conservatives highlighted a report done for the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board by U.S.-based Synapse Energy Economics Inc.

The report contends the Maritime Link is not as cost-effective as either wind power on its own or a combination of wind and electricity imported across existing or upgraded transmission lines between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said it shows the review board needs to be given the time to do a full review of the project, while setting its own terms of reference.

"This is no way to make a multibillion-dollar, 35-year decision where the premier decides first that we are going ahead no matter what," said Baillie.

Under the province's Maritime Link Act, the review board will examine the capital costs of the $1.2-billion subsea link portion of the project and the costs of the electricity it would carry.

However, Premier Darrell Dexter has said partners Nalcor Energy and Emera (TSX:EMA) Inc. already have the go-ahead for construction of the overall project which will bring electricity from Labrador.

Dexter said Thursday he wasn't concerned by yet another report questioning the value of the project.

"You have to expect that there are going to be people who have different opinions on this and they are going to put that forward to the board," he said.

Dexter said there were several reports that support Muskrat Falls and the review board will determine what will be best for Nova Scotia's residential customers.

Review board hearings are slated to begin next month.