Nova Scotia

NSP targeted on first day back at Province House

Nova Scotia Power is being targeted by politicians who returned to Province House for the first day of the fall session of the legislature.

Focus on power rates as Nova Scotia politicians return to legislature

Nova Scotia Power has a big bull's-eye on it, painted there by all three Nova Scotia political parties.

The parties are vying to show who'd be toughest on the utility and all have plans for punitive legislation.

With power rates on the rise and an election expected within a year, the politicians are in a race to get tough on Nova Scotia Power.

The legislation introduced by the political parties on Thursday, the opening day of the fall sitting of the legislature, would amongst other things eliminate guaranteed profits, impose big fines and cap executive salaries at NSP.

All three parties are taking steps they say to protect weary ratepayers.

"Our power rates have gone up some 25 per cent in the last three years," said Jamie Baillie, leader of the Progressive Conservatives.

"That's a real hardship for too many Nova Scotians."

The government would make shareholders pay executive bonuses and salaries above those of deputy ministers and allow regulators an annual savings review.

Nova Scotia Power was in the crosshairs of political parties of all stripes on Thursday. (CBC)

The Conservatives would eliminate NSP's guaranteed rate of return while the Liberals would impose a $100,000 daily fine for failure to meet performance standards

The Liberals are also targeting unwarranted power outages.

"If the infrastructure had to be improved immediately then it would come out of the profits of Nova Scotia Power, not from the rate base," said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.

The NDP are legislating changes announced during rate hearings last month.

Some of those changes include a two-year rate freeze and making shareholders pay for executive bonuses, have already occurred.

Its decision to cap salaries will save $500,000, less than one tenth of one per cent of what Nova Scotia Power will charge customers this year.

"Every penny counts when you're looking at your power bill," said Energy Minister Charlie Parker.

Nova Scotia Power said they welcome the debate. NSP said Thursday they have not had a chance to review the opposition bills but did respond to government.

"We understand as a regulated utility that the government has a role to review and author changes to policy as they see fit," said Neera Ritcey, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power.