CBC NEWS

What is supposed to be a top-secret settlement between NB Power and insurers over problems encountered during the troubled Point Lepreau nuclear plant refurbishment appears to be worth just under $160 million, according to various financial details inadvertently released by the utility.

NB Power is not confirming the amount, claiming it is still a company secret.

But there are signs the Lepreau settlement, reached last year, is worth slightly less than half the $320.1 million the utility said it was owed when it filed a lawsuit against insurers in 2012 for non-payment of its claim over damages and delays.

“We cannot provide a specific number,” said Marc Belliveau, a spokesperson for NB Power, in an email to CBC News about the settlement amount.

“We continue to believe that keeping this information confidential is in the best interest of customers as we continue to work through the remaining litigation.”

NB Power has been trying to keep details of the Lepreau insurance settlement under wraps as it pursues additional compensation from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. It was the main contractor during the refurbishment of the nuclear plant that ultimately ran three years behind schedule and went $1 billion over budget.

But Matthew Wegener, a professor of accounting at the University of New Brunswick’s Saint John campus, says NB Power has not been as disciplined redacting information about the settlement from its budget documents this year as it was last year and doubts AECL will have a hard time piecing together precise settlement details if it chooses.

Wegener’s own estimate from a review of public information is that the settlement is worth around $159 million, although he says that could be refined with deeper analysis of available information.

“It’s not overly difficult, just time-consuming,” said Wegener.

“It depends on how much certainty you want. Just to get that estimate, really it only took me a couple of hours.”

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