When is it going to end? News that the Utility and Review Board has given Nova Scotia Power a six per cent hike over two years is not going to be well received by those people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Merry Christmas everyone!
For several years, Nova Scotia Power has asked for, and received, successive rate hikes that have pushed many people to the edge of insolvency. While $3.50 a month on the average power bill may not seem like much to some, it's just another line in a mountain of bills for those who are struggling from month to month to heat their homes, feed and clothe their children and, if they're lucky, pay for a car to get them to their minimum wage job.
Nova Scotia Power says it's being crippled by economic conditions and a reliance on expensive coal to feed a seemingly insatiable thirst for electricity. We cannot forget it has also lost some major customers - temporarily and permanently - and has to make up the shortfall the only way it knows how, by socking it to the average ratepayer.
As much as we cannot afford to have our power company tumbling into financial ruin, Nova Scotians expect some form of a cost certainty when it comes to paying their power bills. We constantly hear that by conserving energy and making smart choices we can save money on our power bills. Has anyone actually saved a dime, or have the almost non-stop rate increases eaten up any potential savings most consumers may get?
At the same time, we have to wonder why government is sitting back and doing nothing about it. Several years ago, when they were in opposition, the Darrell Dexter New Democrats screamed the loudest at the seemingly unfair power rate increases and the government of the day's inaction dealing with Nova Scotia Power.
As we prepare to head into a new year, one that's likely to include a provincial election, Premier Dexter needs to tell Nova Scotians how his government plans to hold the power company accountable. The power company needs to realize its requests for more money should not be rubberstamped. It must be willing to justify why it needs to go back to the well time and time again. The way things are now, many in this province believe they are being gouged and asked to say, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"