Nova Scotia

NS Power gets delay to rate-increase hearings so it can talk more with province

The temporary pause was requested by NS Power and supported by the Nova Scotia government to give them more time to discuss ways to protect ratepayers from sharply higher fuel costs.

Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board says talks 'should be facilitated'

Nova Scotia Power will have a few more weeks to talk with the provincial government about proposed rate increases for electricity. (The Canadian Press)

Provincial regulators agreed Tuesday to delay proceedings into Nova Scotia Power's proposed 10 per cent electricity rate increase.

The pause was requested by the company and supported by the Nova Scotia government to give them more time to discuss ways to protect ratepayers from sharply higher fuel costs.

The company is allowed to automatically pass those costs to customers, through a yearly fuel adjustment mechanism.

"Given the potential impact that an increase in fuel and purchased power costs could have on the rates paid by NS Power's customers, the board considers that the ongoing discussions between NS Power and the province should be facilitated, if possible," the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board said Tuesday.

Rate increase underestimates current fuel cost

NSP's rate application — submitted in late January 2022 — was based on fuel cost forecasts generated in May 2021. Since then prices have soared.

The company has told regulators it has spent $174 million more on fuel and purchased power than budgeted, as of June 30.

Neither Nova Scotia Power nor the province will say what solutions are under discussion, what that might cost or who will pay.

The board granted the company an additional two weeks to file a fuel cost update — from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2 — and pushed the start date for public hearings from Sept. 7 to Sept. 12.

In approving the extension, regulators noted support from the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables and its commitment "to continuing these discussions to examine and assess every reasonable opportunity that may lessen the impact of increased fuel costs. Both NS Power and NRR expressed the need for additional time to continue these discussions."

The board acknowledged concerns over the reduced time between the release of realistic fuel costs and the start of the hearing.

Full disclosure ordered if talk successful

It said it is open to requests from customer groups for adjournments if they can demonstrate it is needed.

The board also ordered a public accounting if talks between the government and company produce results.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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