24. April 2013 18:03
The following originally appeared as a letter to the editor in The Chronicle Herald.
As yesterday’s story regarding power rates (“Power fairly pricey in N.S.”) demonstrates, calculating and comparing the cost of electricity in different jurisdictions is complex. We felt it was important to add some additional points to help inform the overall context. The article touched on some, but not all, of the key elements that go into the price customers pay for electricity.
For example, electricity bills in Nova Scotia include a fee for energy efficiency programs run by Efficiency NS, but some jurisdictions collect these fees through taxation, rather than on power bills. Differences in the age of plants and type of fuel, as well as the availability of hydro resources all have a measurable impact on the bottom line for customers. Public vs. private ownership is another element that makes comparison difficult – government-owned utilities carry more of their debt on a province’s balance sheet, as was the case in Nova Scotia before the utility was privatized in 1992. This means interest costs associated with their utility’s debt are paid for by taxpayers rather than through electricity rates. Readers will recall that by the early 1990s, as a Crown corporation, Nova Scotia Power’s debt reached a level that the Province was no longer willing to bear. Privatization of Nova Scotia Power helped protect Nova Scotians against that high debt and associated interest costs.
We know power rates are a concern in Nova Scotia. In the 1980s, government decisions made Nova Scotia Power overly dependent on coal. That has proven to be an expensive choice, and we are working to prudently reduce our reliance on coal. Switching to more renewable generation is a big part of the solution, but it’s not a quick fix. As the article points out, Nova Scotia lacks the massive hydro resources of provinces like Manitoba. That’s why we’re enthusiastic about tapping into the vast hydro potential of Newfoundland and Labrador. We’ve been investing to make the switch to renewable energy and to improve reliability, and we’re seeing progress. In 2012, 18% of electricity generated in Nova Scotia came from renewable sources (compared to 96% in Manitoba, for example) and coal use was down to 59%. Our greenhouse gas emissions have seen a steady decline; down 25% since 2007. In 2012, our customers experienced the best reliability in our company’s history.
We are moving forward with a plan that will bring stable rates and increasingly reliable and renewable energy to Nova Scotians now and over the long term. Reducing costs in our business is a top priority. Already this year, we have reduced our capital spending program by approximately $90 million. We have a proven track record of managing costs that are within our control. Third-party benchmark studies have shown Nova Scotia Power has the lowest operating cost per customer and the lowest capital deployed per customer amongst similar Canadian utilities. But we know we can do better, and we know we have work to do to earn the trust of our customers. For me, that is our highest priority.
- Bob Hanf
President & CEO
25. March 2013 20:34
The following letter originally appeared in The Chronicle Herald on March 25, 2013.
It is with delight that the Discovery Centre congratulates our future landlord, Nova Scotia Power, on its LEED certification status for its office building on the Halifax waterfront. We understand what an enormous accomplishment this is, and it is something that all Nova Scotians can celebrate with NSP.
As announced in October 2010, Nova Scotia Power provided the Discovery Centre with an extraordinary and unprecedented opportunity to relocate from its current Barrington Street location to NSP’s new headquarters, and we couldn’t be more excited. We believe all Nova Scotians, and indeed residents of Atlantic Canada, deserve a state-of-the-art and purpose-built science centre that directly addresses the issue of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in our region.
Since that announcement in 2010, the Discovery Centre has negotiated a lease with NSP and we are currently working out the final details, including the construction access agreement. Both the Discovery Centre and NSP continue to work together towards a late 2014 opening. In the meantime, we continue with our fundraising campaign that is over halfway to our goal. The new Discovery Centre will be a transformative educational and cultural landmark in Atlantic Canada and we applaud NSP for its visionary leadership in bringing the new Discovery Centre to life and for its investment in our region’s future.
- Dov Bercovici, CEO, Discovery Centre