07/23/2013 11:28 EDT | Updated 09/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Hydro-Québec lawsuit a 'desperate move,' Dunderdale says

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale is slamming Hydro-Québec's lawsuit over the 1969 Churchill Falls power deal.

“I think that I would characterize this as a desperate move by a company that’s been trying, one way or another, to thwart development on the Lower Churchill for a number of years unless it was clearly in the best interests of the people of Quebec,” Dunderdale told reporters in St. John’s Tuesday.

A day earlier, Hydro-Québec announced it is going to court over its rights under the original Churchill Falls power deal.

But Dunderdale said she is confident the province and its energy corporation, Nalcor, will prevail.

The premier says legal advice shows that Newfoundland and Labrador is not in a vulnerable position as it works to develop the $7.7-billion Muskrat Falls project further down the Churchill River.

"There’s a nebulous line, without a doubt, between the renewal contract of the Upper Churchill contract and the development of the Lower Churchill, but it is nebulous,” Dunderdale said.

“We’re looking at the claim, the case that they have put forward, and we’re highly confident that it wouldn’t have a significant impact. There are ways to mitigate.”

While Hydro-Québec says recent positions taken by CF(L)Co, which operates the Churchill Falls facility, are “ill-founded,” Dunderdale said there are “numerous” legal opinions backing them up.

“The agenda won’t be set by Quebec in terms of how we do our work, how we develop our resources, and how we access markets,” she said.