The rising cost of electricity took centre stage for the second straight day on the Nova Scotia election trail with the Liberals promising to make Nova Scotia Power pay for energy conservation programs.

With the Tufts Cove power plant as his backdrop, Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said if he heads the next government, initiatives promoted through Efficiency Nova Scotia will be paid for by Nova Scotia Power.

The Liberals predict this change could save individual ratepayers as much as $100 a year.

McNeil said he'd make the utility pay $46 million a year to cover Efficiency Nova Scotia programs that reduce the amount of electricity used by homes and businesses.

"We'll make Nova Scotia Power pay the efficiency tax instead of Nova Scotia ratepayers," he said.

Efficiency Nova Scotia was set up with the blessing of the Utility and Review Board several years ago because opponents of Nova Scotia Power argued conservation programs shouldn’t be administered by a company that makes its money selling electricity.

Targets outages

The Liberals said they would also punish the utility when there are power outages.

"Everyone recognizes when you you’re going to get these freak storms that come through, but we’ve been having power outages in the middle of the summer here. It’s time this company realizes they have a responsibility to invest in their infrastructure in this province," said McNeil.

The Liberals also echoed a promise made earlier by the Progressive Conservative Party to halt the nine per cent rate of return the power company is permitted to earn. That rate is set by the Utility and Review Board.

Nova Scotia Power said it won’t comment on election promises.

with files from the Canadian Press