HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) today approved the Settlement Agreement Nova Scotia Power reached with customer representatives – including the Consumer Advocate, representing residential customers, the Small Business Advocate, and the Avon Group of large industrial customers.
The regulator determined the Settlement Agreement, which includes NS Power’s Rate Stabilization Plan, is “in the public interest” and “provides for rates that are just and reasonable.”
“We know any rate increase is a concern to families and businesses. That’s why we’re working with customer representatives and doing everything we can to keep power rates as low as possible for our customers,” said NS Power President & CEO Rob Bennett.
“We’re on the path to cleaner, more stably priced electricity. Coal has risen more than 70% in price since 2004. But we’re making great progress – there is more renewable energy on the grid than ever before, and we’re using less coal. That means more price stability, lower emissions, and more money being invested here in Nova Scotia, rather than going to foreign coal companies.”
The Rate Stabilization Plan includes overall increases of 3% to each customer class in both 2013 and 2014. It defers collection of the lost contribution to fixed costs from the paper mills to 2015. The deferral will be collected over eight years, replacing an existing deferral related to taxes that will be fully paid off in 2015. Thus, accommodating the fixed cost deferral should not increase rates.
The UARB also approved the work NS Power is doing with the Affordable Energy Coalition, the Consumer Advocate and others to assist low income customers. This is a very important initiative for Nova Scotia Power, and the Board has expressed its appreciation, calling it a “welcome development.”
The UARB limited how much of executive compensation, including pension, can be included in rates, and made two disallowances on past fuel expenses.
“The Board has found areas where operationally we can improve and we’re taking actions on those right away,” said Bennett.
Nova Scotia Power acknowledges the UARB’s comments on how the utility responded to criticisms contained in a report issued by the Board’s auditor, Liberty Consulting.
“We could have done a better job replying to the audit,” Bennett said. “We still believe standing up for the reputation of our employees and our company was the right thing to do. We appreciate that the Board has recognized that our employees are ‘both competent and professional,’ and that the Fuel Adjustment Mechanism is functioning properly. ”
New rates will be effective January 1.