With continuing delays at Nova Scotia's newest offshore platform, the province’s utility is looking at the economics of bringing in natural gas from the United States.

Deep Panuke, the offshore natural gas production facility, is more than two years late and is hundreds of millions of dollars over the original forecast. The platform was in the process of final commissioning when a fire broke out last year.

Now Nova Scotia Power is gauging whether a proposed expansion of the pipeline between Quebec and Maine might be able to deliver fuel at a cheaper price.

Portland Natural gas is giving companies six weeks to decide how much they will buy, before deciding whether to increase capacity.

"That incremental gas supply will help the region overall to bring new supplies in which should reduce the prices," said Wayne O'Connor, a vice-president at Nova Scotia Power.

 

"So our interest from Nova Scotia Power's perspective is to see if we can find natural gas supplies that are lower cost than our alternatives and result in lower electricity costs for our customers."

Deep Panuke’s delay has already been partially blamed for a supply shortage that saw prices triple in Nova Scotia last month. Nova Scotians pay among the highest power rates in the country

About 20 per cent of electricity was generated by natural gas in 2012, but that number is declining because prices rose higher than the utility forecast.