Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Power's Tusket dam refurbishment swallows another $2M

The disclosure of contingency spending during the last 3 months of 2021 was ordered by the provincial regulator after N.S. Power said it was halting work yet again due to water seepage.

Project 3 years behind schedule and at least $18M over budget, with no end in sight

Nova Scotia Power must provide the provincial regulator with another update on the Tusket hydro dam refurbishment project by July 29. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Power burned through another $2.2 million from ratepayers late last year at its ill-fated refurbishment of the Tusket hydro dam near Yarmouth, N.S.

The disclosure of contingency spending during the last three months of 2021 was ordered by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board after the company told the regulator on Jan. 31 it was halting work yet again due to water seepage.

The company filed its contingency spending to meet a Feb. 23 deadline imposed by the regulator.

To identify the $2.2 million in additional spending, it required making calculations using information obtained from two sets of submissions by Nova Scotia Power.

Work to bring the crumbling 93-year-old dam up to national standards is now three years behind schedule and at least $18 million over budget. Water continues to seep into the construction zone despite multiple attempts to seal off the site.

The most recent cost estimate goes back to July 2021 when the company applied to charge ratepayers for its overspending.

The total cost then was estimated at $36.8 million — twice the amount originally approved in early 2019.

Water continues to create problems

In January, Nova Scotia Power said it continued to struggle with water infiltration. The company said it had no idea how much it would cost to fix the issue or when it would be able to finish the refurbishment.

The regulator demanded answers.

Nova Scotia Power has to update the status of the construction plan and provide a new overspending projection by July 29.

Its director of regulatory affairs, Brian Curry, has outlined eight steps the company needs to take.

Those include completing a geotechnical review of the site, assessing potential permitting requirements and supply chain impacts.


Paul Withers


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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