Nova Scotia residents will see their power bills increase by 14% by next January
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Electricity bills for Nova Scotia Power’s residential customers will increase by about 14 percent by January next year.
Nova Scotia’s Utility and Testing Board announced Thursday that it had approved most of the general settlement agreements for the utility’s rate applications reached in November with representatives of all major customer classes, representing most of Nova Scotia Power’s customers.
The Management Board envisages average rate increases of 6.9 percent across all customer classes for 2023 and 2024.
The 2023 increase is effective immediately and next year’s increase will take effect on January 1, 2024.
Collectively, the increases will exceed 14 percent.
“The Board is satisfied that the negotiated average interest rate increases of 6.9% in 2023 and 2024 are reasonable and reasonable and that the increases are in line with recent changes to the Public Utilities Act introduced by Bill 212.
“The Board is satisfied that the negotiated average interest rate increases of 6.9 percent in 2023 and 2024 are reasonable and appropriate and that the increases are consistent with recent changes to the Public Utilities Act introduced by Bill 212,” the Board members wrote in the summary of his decision.
Premier Tim Houston and the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy (NRR) had asked the board to vacate the settlement agreement because it contradicted the purpose and intent of Bill 212, which went into effect on November 9, 2022, amending the Public Utilities Act to limit utility company profits.
“The board is very aware that electricity tariffs are already challenging for many customers and that a tariff increase will be difficult, particularly for those on low or fixed incomes,” the summary said.
“However, the board does not have the authority to offer special rates to these customers and, as determined by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals, the board’s regulatory power under the Public Utilities Act is not a social policy instrument. Furthermore, consistent with the principles of regulating utility charges recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Board cannot simply reject Nova Scotia Power’s reasonable costs in order to make prices more affordable.”
The board decision notes that the principles of regulation “ensure fair tariffs and the financial health of a utility so that it can continue to invest in the system that provides services to its customers”.
“While the Board can (and does) reject charges found to be imprudent or unreasonable, in the absence of such determination Nova Scotia Power’s charges must be reflected in the tariffs paid by customers.
The Board also approves in principle the Storm Rider, the DSM Rider and the Decarbonization Deferral Account, each as described in the Settlement Agreement.
The Board did not approve three aspects of the agreement, namely the proposed AMI opt-out fee, the creation of a regulatory asset for the Annapolis Tidal Generating Facility and Maritime Link’s four transfer capital projects.
There’s more to come