Nova Scotia

N.S. PCs want to introduce power legislation

Nova Scotia's opposition Progressive Conservative party says it's planning to introduce legislation that would give consumers a voice when it comes to electricity in the province.

Nova Scotia's opposition Progressive Conservative party said it is planning to introduce legislation that would give consumers a voice when it comes to electricity in the province.

Conservative leader Jamie Baillie wants to create a panel of citizens to look at electricity rates and polices in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

The move came just days after Nova Scotia Power (NSP) proposed a new price increase of 3.2 per cent.

Provincial Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie said he will introduce his Power Rate Reduction Review Act into the house on Monday.

The utility is hoping to recover an additional $70 million for unpaid fuel costs in 2010 and 2011. The utility has already asked for a 4.9 per cent increase in 2012 to pay for anticipated higher operating costs in the future.

In a statement accompanying its request to regulators last week, NSP said the average residential customer would see bills rise by $9 per month if both increases are approved.

Customers are paying more to make up for the loss of NSP's largest customer, the NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill.

Both NewPage and Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. near Liverpool had asked for special power rates to stay in business earlier this year.

Baillie said he wants both industrial and residential consumers to take part in reviewing power rates and existing policies.

"I think it's time to give consumers a voice in the setting of electricity rates," Baillie told CBC News Sunday.

Power prices are rising to make up for the loss of NSP's largest customer, the NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill. (CBC)

"So the bill we're going to introduce in the House of Assembly creates a panel of citizens … whether they're small business owners or large businesses like NewPage and Bowater — and [individual] consumers — who will review all the policies of the government that are causing rates to go up and bring them to the legislature where we can debate them in the full light of day."

The Power Rate Reduction Review Act is the fourth legislative change put forward by the Progressive Conservatives to tackle higher power rates.  

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