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Parties finalize agreements for 824-MW Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project

A series of formal agreements to finalize Newfoundland and Labrador's 824-MW Muskrat Falls hydropower project have been reached, HydroWorld.com has learned.

The 13 deals, struck Tuesday between private utility Emera Energy and crown corporation Nalcor Energy, is a 35-year deal that puts the controversial hydroelectric project one step closer to reality.

Muskrat Falls is one component of the Lower Churchill hydropower plan, which also includes the 2,250-MW Gull Island plant.

"Today's signing represents a major step forward for Newfoundland and Labrador, and is another important milestone as we move closer towards a decision on sanctioning the project," says Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy.

HydroWorld.com reported that the parties had previously agreed to a term sheet in November 2010, but the two failed to extend terms of the agreement before its one-year expiration date.

Sources say the government of Newfoundland and Labrador will hold a political debate sometime this fall before deciding whether to sanction the project, which has sparked controversy throughout its development.

Progress seems to be moving forward, however, as the government of Nova Scotia announced earlier this month that it had begun drafting regulations to govern the province's regulatory review of a proposed subsea transmission lines associated with the US$6.1 billion project.

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