Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Power CEO lauds 'well compensated' job

Rob Bennett, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power, is justifying his $1 million salary in a time of "massive transformation" and when ratepayers are asked to pay more.

Rob Bennett, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power, is justifying his $1 million salary in a time of "massive transformation" at the company and when ratepayers are asked to pay more.

"I feel very fortunate to work at a job that I really enjoy doing, and I am well compensated. There is no doubt about that," he said Tuesday.

Bennett's annual compensation jumped 23 per cent to $1.1 million last year.

The number was released last month, just two days after NSP and parent company Emera said they needed to hike power rates six per cent over two years.

Bennett addressed both issues at a meeting of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

"Change hurts. Nova Scotia Power is going through a massive transformation right now and I'm afraid Nova Scotians are feeling that change," he said.

Bennett cited the switch to wind energy as an example. When the first wind farm at Pubnico appeared, wind cost more than coal. Eight years later, wind and coal are the same price.

Bennett said after 2015, electricity will cost even more to make up for more than $100 million in lost revenue from the paper mills.

Starting next year, shareholders rather than ratepayers will pay executive bonuses and stock options. But it won't keep power rates from rising to pay for more renewable energy projects.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie wants a new law that reflects what people can pay instead of what it costs to produce electricity.

"That's exactly why we're intervening at the power rate hearings, to say no," Baillie said.

Community and labour groups are planning to hold rallies on Thursday to protest the proposed six per cent rate hike.