Ottawa still considering paying off Nova Scotia Power’s debt

The federal government is leaving Nova Scotia’s electricity provider unanswered as its debt mounts. If Ottawa does not come to the aid of Nova Scotia Power, taxpayers’ electricity bills could increase significantly.

However, Ottawa says it needs more time to respond to the request for financial assistance from the public electricity service of Nova Scotia submitted more than five months ago.

A growing debt

Meanwhile, the company’s unpaid fuel bill Nova Scotia Power (DK) continues to increase, from $345 million last September to $395 million today, according to the province.

A spokesperson for Jonathan Wilkinsonthe federal Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, indicated that this request merited additional time to better understand the impact on Nova Scotia’s electricity rates.

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Average energy rates have already increased by 14% over the past two years in Nova Scotia.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jonathan Villeneuve

But if Nova Scotia Power does not receive a positive response from the federal government, the company could decide to amortize its debt by increasing the price of its services. Its customers could then see their electricity bill increase from the fall.

This situation worries the Minister of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy of Nova Scotia, Tory Rushtonwho asks for the conversation with Ottawa to move forward as quickly as possible.

We know Nova Scotians cannot afford any more rate hikes.

A quote from Tory Rushton, Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy

The minister hopes that the federal government will propose a solution during the summer.

But according to University of Ottawa economist Jean-Thomas Bernard, the federal government should not intervene. We try to send the burden to another level of government, it’s a bit like receiving a gift from heaven to which we don’t contributehe explains.

According to Jean-Thomas Bernard, if Ottawa starts financing Nova Scotia’s energy costs, the other provinces will also find good reasons to ask it for help. Costs don’t disappear he concludes.

Average prices still on the rise

While average energy prices have already increased by 14% over the past two years, DK plans further increases.

The electric utility anticipates an additional $222 million in unrecovered fuel costs for 2024 and 2025. To offset the increase, it will raise rates by nearly 7% in those years.

If it becomes necessary to protect taxpayers [à nouveau]so I certainly expect, as a federal partner, that they will also be at the table“,”text”:”If it becomes necessary to protect taxpayers [à nouveau]so I certainly expect, as a federal partner, that they will also be at the table”}}”> If it becomes necessary to protect taxpayers [à nouveau]so I certainly expect, as a federal partner, that they will also be at the table declared the minister Tory Rushton. However, he refused to reveal the amount requested from Ottawa.

Insufficient support

Earlier this year, DK has applied to the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board to recover the amount of its bill.

Nova Scotia Power has ten years to repay this money, with interest. Customers will benefit from small annual rate increases to cover the cost, starting with one percent in the first year.

For his part, DK also declined to answer questions about the federal bailout request. The utility simply relayed the same statement it shared several months ago.

“This is an important issue for our customers. Discussions have taken place with provincial and federal partners on ways to reduce these costs for our customers,” the statement reads in part.

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Tory Rushton, Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources. (Archive photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada

Finally, the Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy, Tory Rushton hopes that the transition to renewable energy can help alleviate this problem in the future.

According to him, the energy debt of DK is at least partly due to the volatility of imported fossil fuel prices.

Jean-Thomas Bernard emphasizes that federal intervention would go against efforts to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. And if we want to move away from petroleum products, we must not subsidize the consumption of petroleum productshe assures.

About 40 per cent of Nova Scotia’s grid energy comes from renewable sources, and this figure is expected to rise to 80 per cent by 2030.

According to information from Taryn GrantCBC and Adrien Blanc, Radio-Canada

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