Nova Scotia Power "Deal" Not A Good Deal For You
Dartmouth Cole Harbour Weekly News
October 2, 2011
Another season and another Nova Scotia Power rate hike request. September saw the Utility and Review Board hold hearings where Nova Scotia Power was once again seeking to increase what you pay for electricity. Since those hearings began, Nova Scotia Power decreased its rate hike request from an average of 7.2% to 5%. A decision by the board is expected later this fall.
The 5% is on top of hikes already approved for the next couple of years and the new tax on electricity you now pay that was first proposed by the Tories and made law by the NDP which also recently increased.
There are many things which could be done to help with rates and bring predictability. For example, while efficiency and energy reduction programs are important, money raised from the new tax on electricity Nova Scotians now pay could have been raised from shareholder profits. Afterall, Nova Scotia Power enjoys a financial benefit from these programs, and its parent company Emera routinely points out that one of their biggest profit generators is Nova Scotia Power with money from your pocket. The NDP and Tories felt it should be taken from your pocket instead. I think that was wrong.
Some costs in the current rate hike relate to targets for renewable energy. Rrenewable energy will result in more stable rates in the long term. Coal and other fossil fuel prices are increasing rapidly – we all know that. However, neither the previous Tory government, nor the current NDP government has been willing to estimate the cost to consumers for the move to renewable energy when they introduced new legislation. Instead they’ve waited, and choose to blame Nova Scotia Power for their own inability to be honest with Nova Scotians. An honest discussion about where power rates are going is the minimum Nova Scotians deserve.
Nova Scotia Power also has the ability to sell excess energy resulting from the current NewPage shut down on the open market. If there is a market for Muskrat Falls energy, there is a market for this energy. The result could be to eliminate increased costs Nova Scotia Power wants to charge customers for the shutdown until the Port Hawkesbury mill finally reopens.
Nova Scotia Power should also be subject to regular and ongoing performance and value audits of their operations. Just like government, there are almost certainly savings to be found, efficiencies to be discovered, and opportunities to reduce costs to Nova Scotians through regular audits.
Almost every day I hear from residents and business owners struggling under increasing costs. On a list that includes increasing costs for taxes, gas prices, food, and often top of the list, electricity. It’s time for action to reduce the pain of continued power increases. Controlling increases in the cost of living, and improving our economic competitiveness depends on action on this issue.
You can read my latest submission to the Utility and Review Board about the proposed Nova Scotia Power increases online at http://www.blog.andrewyounger.ca/ You can call me anytime at 406-4420.