MLA challenging proposed power rate hike

Ashley
Ashley Thompson
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Hants West MLA Chuck Porter says he's hearing from his constituents that they are struggling to pay their power bills.

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter says the provincial PC party wants to see Nova Scotia’s MLAs back in the House of Assembly, debating Nova Scotia Power’s proposed rate hikes.

“People elect government and elected officials to go in and make decisions in their best interest,” Porter said in an interview Sept. 8.

Porter, the Progressive Conservative’s energy critic, says legislation must be passed that requires all of Nova Scotia Power’s applications for rate hikes to be considered by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB), then debated in the legislature, before ratepayers are forced to pay more for electricity.

“We are going to propose legislation that says if Nova Scotia Power (NSP) wants a rate increase they can apply, which they would normally do, the URB would go through the hearing process as they normally do, but the URB would not have the final decision,” Porter said.

“That recommendation would come to the House of Assembly where all 52 elected members will debate it and decide.”

Porter says the NDP government is “passing the buck” by claiming their hands are tied in the matter that, as it stands, is ultimately the decision of the URB.

“Government should take responsibility for allowing the rate increases,” Porter said.

If the proposed increases are deemed appropriate, it has been reported that NSP projections suggest the rate hike could see the company charging customers 20 per cent more for electricity within the next three years.

“I deal with this issue on a weekly basis, at least, with people coming in with disconnection notices. People are asking: ‘Am I going to feed my family or am I going to pay my power bill?’” MLA Chuck Porter

“Power rates today are ridiculous,” Porter said.

 “I deal with this issue on a weekly basis, at least, with people coming in with disconnection notices. People are asking: ‘Am I going to feed my family or am I going to pay my power bill?’”

Porter says he has been the only politician voicing the concerns of working-class Nova Scotians at meetings between Nova Scotia Power officials, the corporation’s stakeholders and lawyers. 

“We will not support any rate settlement that allows bonuses and higher profits for NSP shareholders to come from power customers,” said Porter, speaking on behalf of his party.

“We just cannot justify paying more money to Nova Scotia Power to reflect executive bonuses and guaranteed investment. Not acceptable.”

Porter says many Nova Scotians who filled out the PC’s ‘Let’s Talk Rates’ online survey are on fixed incomes, struggling to make ends meet.

NSP’s rate hike application will be revisited at a review hearing Sept. 19. 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians

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  • Julie
    September 14, 2011 - 11:02

    The Conservatives privatized NS Power. They sold it for a song. And now they have the gall to blame the NDP? It's ridiculous. The Conservatives made sure rate hikes went through the UARB. The Conservatives made sure Emera had a monopoly on power in the province. The Conservatives did nothing to get us off coal and onto stable and cheap hydro. Don't blame the maid for the mess. That's what Conservatives are doing when they blame the NDP.