New Brunswick

Point Lepreau delays could mean 2% rate hike

New Brunswick electricity consumers may see a two per cent rate increase to cover the cost overruns associated with the Point Lepreau nuclear refurbishment delays, according to NB Power's president.

New Brunswick electricity consumers may see a two per cent rate increase to cover the cost overruns associated with the Point Lepreau nuclear refurbishment delays, according to NB Power's president.

The $1.4 billion project was supposed to be completed in October 2009, but a series of delays has forced Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and NB Power to admit that Atlantic Canada's only nuclear reactor will not start up again until February 2011.

David Hay, the president and chief executive officer of NB Power, told the Saint John Board of Trade on Friday morning that the delays in refurbishing the province's nuclear reactor will mean a small change in power rates.

"The effect on rates amortized over 25 to 30 years will be in the range of two per cent — 1.8 to 2.5 [per cent] maybe," Hay said.

"So that's a one-time increase in rates, which is less than the threshold we normally operate with and what we're going to do is to find out how we can actually minimize or eliminate that."

NB Power can increase its rates by an average of 2.9 per cent without appearing in front of the Energy and Utilities Board to defend the decision.

The New Brunswick government has been demanding compensation for those delays from AECL. 

But Hay said NB Power is not involved in any compensation discussions between the federal and provincial governments.

Hay said NB Power and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. have now created cross-company teams to verify every remaining step of the refurbishment to make sure the project doesn't get delayed any further.

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