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Premier Darrell Dexter said the important thing was to get off fossil fuels. (CBC)

Two days after Nova Scotia Power announced it's seeking yet another increase in electricity rates, it revealed that its top executives are getting big raises on their million-dollar salaries.

On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Power and its parent company Emera said it needs taxpayers to pay an extra six per cent on their power bills over the next two years.

On Thursday, it released salary details for the company's top executives. Many received double-digit pay rises for 2011.  

  • Rob Bennett, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power, made more than $1.1 million in combined salary, bonuses and benefits. It's a 23 per cent increase over the previous year.
  • Judy Steele, chief financial officer at Emera, saw her compensation more than double to over $730,000.
  • Nancy Tower, who took on new roles with Emera in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, saw her pay packet rise 29 per cent to $1.4 million.
  • Chris Huskilson, the president and CEO of Emera, saw a 20 per cent salary rise to $750,000 for a total compensation package of $2.99 million for the year.

Nova Scotia Power has raised rates seven times in the last 11 years and the province's consumer advocate warned they will likely seek another increase in 2015.

The growing executive salaries combined with increasing taxpayer costs had political parties lining up to attack Darrell Dexter's NDP government.

'Just doesn't add up'

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil questioned the big pay rises.

"That will make four rate increases in four years. At a time when we're talking about someone being paid $1.15 million, and another executive being paid $3 million in a compensation package, that just doesn't add up," he said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie took a similar stance.

"Hydro Quebec, a comparator to Nova Scotia Power, is ten times the size and yet their CEO makes half of what the CEO of Nova Scotia Power makes and he makes one-sixths of what the CEO of Emera makes," he said.

Nova Scotia Power has a monopoly on providing power in the province, so customers have little say in how much they pay and few alternative sources of energy.

Dexter spoke against Nova Scotia Power when he was in opposition, but now as premier defended the company.

He said it has reduced the number of executives.

"What I want to say is we want to make sure that we get the lowest possible rates that we can. The way that we're going to do that is to make sure we get off fossil fuels. Those are the cost drivers that drive up rates for people," he said.

The "NSP Management Information Circular" attached below details the executive salaries on page 17.

Power to the people

One Nova Scotia family has started an online petition to protest the rising costs. Archie and Pam Stewart bought new appliances, installed energy-efficient lights and turned the heat down, but their bills still increased.

"The usage is down, but the payments are up," Pam Stewart said.

She has tracked the bills for three years and says they are paying about $61 more a month this year than last year.

"I'm beyond the point of mad. I'm at a point now where I need to act," Archie Stewart said. He started a petition and wants "hundreds of thousands" of Nova Scotians to sign up.

"All we need is people to sign that petition and the government will have no choice: if they want to form the next government, they will address our issues," he said.

The Stewarts say they, like most Nova Scotians, simply cannot afford another rate increase.

NSP Management Information Circular

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said Nova Scotia Power had raised its rates seven times in the last year. It has raised them seven times in the last 11 years.
    May 10, 2012 9:19 PM AT