FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's Opposition Liberals are accusing the province's Tory government of masking NB Power's true financial position.

Finance critic Donald Arseneault says the premier and finance minister have been boasting about profits at the Crown-owned utility without mentioning its so-called deferral account.

The account includes the cost of refurbishing of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, which will be recorded when the project is done.

Auditor general Kim MacPherson told a legislative committee Tuesday that the cost of buying replacement power during the refurbishment was $700 million as of March 2011 — and growing.

She said NB Power will be able to charge its customers to cover that cost when it shows on the utility's income statement in 2014.

Energy Minister Craig Leonard says the deferral account is actually a clear way to show the public the amount spent on the refurbishment.

Leonard says the one-time accounting entry will not add to the utility's debt, and the costs will be recovered over the life of the plant.

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