nb-bernard-lord

NB Power has rehired Alexander Proudfoot, a consulting company, that has ties to former premier Bernard Lord to review its operations. (CBC) ((Aaron Harris/Canadian Press))

NB Power has rehired an international consulting firm with ties to former Progressive Conservative premier Bernard Lord for another round of cost-cutting at the Crown corporation.

Alexander Proudfoot, a firm with advisors in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, was originally hired in June to advise the company on ways to streamline the corporation.

Lord is listed as one of Alexander Proudfoot’s three Canadian "advisors."

Kathleen Duguay, a spokesperson at NB Power, said the utility issued a public tender for the second round for the cost-cutting exercise.

"Members of our executive and senior management team reviewed the 10 submissions as per public tendering guidelines and made a recommendation to our board of directors on the winning bid," Duguay wrote in an email.

"Our board of directors approved the selection. [Alexander Proudfoot]’s bid will see the company pursue cost savings within the utility through productivity and process improvements and continue our goal of reducing OMA costs and finding efficiencies in the running of the utility."

The NB Power official refused to reveal the length of the contract or the dollar value.

A spokesperson for Energy Minister Craig Leonard said NB Power made the choice itself, and politicians had no role in the decision.

When NB Power hired the consulting firm earlier this year, it was asked to review three specific areas: NB Power's generating stations in Belledune and Coleson Cove, the utility's Shared Services division and its transmission or customer service offices in Moncton, Marysville and the customer interaction centre.

Gaetan Thomas, the president and chief executive officer of NB Power, said at the time in a memo to staff that the analysis may lead to cuts.

"There may be opportunities for improvement through the reduction or elimination of redundant or unnecessary practices," the internal memo said.

In October, NB Power cut 12 directors, managers and human resources personnel at the Crown corporation’s Fredericton headquarters.

Thomas said in the internal message to staff that the cuts were made to streamline NB Power’s organization and operate more efficiently.

"In times of unprecedented change, unprecedented decisions and actions are required," the memo said in October.

NB Power announced last Thursday that it had a $210-million profit over the last 12 months, which is the largest profit the company has made in a one-year period over its 90-year existence.

The utility made $117 million during the first six months of its current fiscal year in addition to $93 million made during the last six months of the previous fiscal year.