Nova Scotia Power rates flat in 2015, consumer concerns linger

Nova Scotia Power will not seek a rate increase for next year, but one consumer advocate worries that may not be good news for customers.

Consumer advocate John Merrick worries customers will be burdened with interest costs

Nova Scotia Power will not seek an increase in its power rates for next year, but one consumer advocate worries that may not be good news for customers down the road.

The utility's fuel costs came in $95 million over budget last year. Typically that is collected from customers through a fuel adjustment mechanism, but Nova Scotia Power is proposing to defer the expense.

John Merrick, a consumer advocate, said by paying later, consumers will have to shoulder the interest costs. He estimates it will cost ratepayers an additional $600,000.

"Nova Scotia Power gets to recover financing charge on that, so that it costs ratepayers a considerable amount to have that put off," Merrick said.

The power corporation said it has focused on cutting operating costs. It said it announced it wouldn't seek rate increases because it wanted to provide certainty for businesses and households looking ahead to 2015.

"We know price certainty, stability and affordability are important to our customers," Bob Hanf, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power, said in a statement.

Power rates increased in both 2013 and 2014.