NB Power has backed off its attempt to keep the salary of a senior executive secret.
Late Friday, the utility acknowledged that its nuclear vice-president, Brett Plummer, is earning $500,000 US this year, or $655,000 Cdn.
That's more than double the pay of other NB Power vice-presidents — and about 25 per cent more than the utility pays president Gaetan Thomas.
In a letter to the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board on Friday, NB Power lawyer John Furey said the utility was releasing the information voluntarily but reluctantly.
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"While NB Power remains concerned that the disclosure of these values compromises the ability of NB Power to obtain competitive pricing in the future, NB Power is also cognizant of the public interest in an open and transparent hearing process."
Plummer is a U.S. Navy-trained nuclear operator who was hired by NB Power as its chief nuclear officer and vice-president nuclear in late 2015. His job is to oversee attempts to improve Lepreau's disappointing post-refurbishment performance.
An apparent saving, despite extra pay
NB Power agreed to pay Plummer enough money to help him achieve after-tax income in New Brunswick similar to what he could command in the U.S. That involves paying extra to compensate for the low Canadian dollar and high Canadian taxes.
But in other information also released Friday it appeared Plummer's contract represents a substantial saving for NB Power.
The utility felt it needed outside expertise to manage the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station when it came out of refurbishment in November 2012.
NB Power contracted out the position of nuclear vice-president to Canadian Nuclear Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, for $97,490 per month, or nearly $1.2 million per year.
Plummer's hiring allowed NB Power to end that more expensive contract.
Monday hearing cancelled
The Energy and Utilities Board had scheduled a Monday morning hearing to decide whether to force NB Power to disclose Plummer's salary in advance of its February rate hearing.
Board lawyer Ellen Desmond confirmed by email Friday afternoon that she was satisfied with the information NB Power has now provided and the hearing was called off.
"This will confirm that the response provided by NB Power this afternoon does adequately respond to and satisfy the objection raised by board staff," wrote Desmond. "As a result, board staff do not require a Public Interest Hearing on Monday, January 16, 2017."