‘No’ would be the short answer. ‘Learn how to be profitable without gouging your customers,’ would be one way to elaborate if the answer were to come from the average Nova Scotian.
Here we go again, except at double speed, with Nova Scotia Power announcing it has applied for a rate increase – just as customers were getting used to a hike less than a year ago.
This time out it’s the private utility looking to add three per cent to power bills as a means to stabilize rate increases over the next two years – and we apologize if raising prices to stabilize them is a little hard to comprehend.
Interestingly, this comes at a time when the National Energy Board has released data showing that Nova Scotia already has the highest cost per kilowatt hour of all the provinces.
That’s reason enough why this application should be turned down flat – although given the historical success of NSP getting approvals for increases from the utility and review board, might as well get used to the idea.
Part of the reason being given for NSP’s struggles is the downturn affecting the NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill and the Bowater plant. Yet we’ve also been led to believe that keeping these plants running will mean allowing them reduced rates – with their break to be made up by the rest of us.
Pretty hard to come out ahead with those odds.
As Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said Tuesday, his party has been asking that the government do a performance audit of the power utility, so that it looks internally for savings rather than continually hitting up people who can’t afford increases.
Quite right. This province doesn’t have two years to stabilize rates if it wants to attract industry. It has to happen now and the rates must be competitive, even if it means the utility has to learn how to be profitable in other ways.
Given its track record, it would be unwise to go along with NSP promising things will be better at some point in the future.