HALIFAX -- The debate over Nova Scotia's role in the multibillion-dollar Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development has taken an odd twist.

After confirming that the NDP government has kept an ongoing study of the project secret for three months, Premier Darrell Dexter struggled yesterday to explain why.

The study, which started in September, is expected to determine if buying electricity from the project in Labrador would be cheaper than getting it from wind turbines, natural gas plants or hydro dams.

When asked why the study was kept under wraps, Dexter said he didn't want the media pestering the company.

The premier said government wouldn't normally reveal such a study was going on until its was -- quote -- "mature enough to be able to talk about."

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie says the premier remained mute until he was sure it would give him the answers he wanted -- a charge Dexter has denied.