Thousands sign petition against N.S. power rate hike

An online petition against a proposed rate hike for power in Nova Scotia has garnered more than 13,000 signatures.

Nova Scotia Power asking for six per cent price increase over the next two years

An online petition against a proposed rate hike for power in Nova Scotia has garnered more than 13,000 signatures.

Last week, Nova Scotia Power applied to increase the price of electricity by three per cent in each of the next two years for residential customers.

Nova Scotia Power has raised its rates seven times in the last 11 years.

Public outrage mounted when it was announced that the top executives at the utility received raises as high as 23% on their  salaries, some of them making more than a million dollars a year.

Archie Stewart, of Port Hawkesbury, launched the petition. He said it was time someone got the government's attention.

"I'm hoping that the numbers alone will scare the government. I know they would scare me," he said.

Nova Scotia Power has filed an application for a rate hike of three per cent in each of the next two years. (CBC)

"If I were elected to an office and 15,000, 12,000, 20,000 people said 'Hey, I'm not happy with what you're doing' I would sit up and take notice. I don't care whether it would be electronic or email or paper signature or whatever. I would take notice of that. And that's what I'm hoping they will do."

On the petition, people wrote messages saying everything from the rates are ridiculous, to claims that people will starve to pay their bills.

Craig Leblanc rents an apartment in Halifax. He said his electricity is included in his rent, but that doesn't mean he's not affected.

"Our rent's going up in a couple months and that's probably due to the fact that power's increasing in Nova Scotia. So, definitely, I can see it hurting a lot of people," he said.

Tories try to intervene

Jamie Baillie, the leader of the province's Progressive Conservatives, said enough is enough. He said they'll be speaking at the Utility and Review Board hearings that will determine if the rate hike is approved.

"We know that disposable income in Nova Scotia has declined by almost two per cent in the last year and our power rates continue to skyrocket. We are at an important tipping point," he said.

Baillie said the province will pay a bigger price if the rates continue.

"You cannot have a growing economy and real jobs when power rates are going up, when our taxes are going up, when people have less money to spend. That's what leads to recessions."

But Nova Scotia Power said the rates are necessary since two of its biggest customers — paper mills — have both experienced shut downs and their payments have dropped. The company also said the transition from coal to renewable energy was also driving up the price of power.