Premier Darrell Dexter with a rare blast at Nova Scotia Power yesterday. The preem's enjoyed a rather cozy relationship with the power corp, even hopped a flight on the corporate jet one time. But yesterday he took aim at his corporate buddies, saying if the utility overcharged its customers by the amount suggested by an energy consultant, then "every cent" should be repaid and pronto. The Liberty Consulting Group, hired by the UARB to audit the power corp, says Nova Scotia Power overcharged customers by some $22 million over the last two years. "If there is a miscalculation or if there is more than was necessary taken from ratepayers, that money goes directly, and I would say immediately, back to ratepayers," says Dexter. The suits at the power corp aren't in any hurry to do that however. They're rejecting the audit's conclusion and it looks like this one will be fought out before the UARB in mid-September.
Premier Dexter was in Newfoundland yesterday chatting up Premier Kathy Dunderdale on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. It's estimated cost is $6.2 billion, but everyone seems to be in agreement right now, including the two premiers, that the cost will rise. Inflation alone will drive up the price. Dexter says that's worrisome but he's standing by Nova Scotia's participation, saying it's still a good project for the province and its reliance on coal. He says it will also help provide stability to the constantly rising power rates we now see. The way I see it however differs greatly. I see a dramatic increase in the cost per kilowatt hour because of the project's huge cost while Quebec Hydro's out shopping around its abundance of cheap hydroelectric power at a fraction of the cost we pay now. I ask you, what makes more sense?
The premier took in developer Joe Ramia's announcement yesterday confirming the Nova Centre project is a go. Construction begins in the spring. Dexter indicated yesterday provincial contributions to the project won't exceed what's already been said, $56 million. Add in the city's contribution of $56 million and the federal contribution of $51.4 million and it comes to $163.4 million. The figure presented at yesterday's news conference was $800,000 more. Who's paying that?
Ouch! Gas took a big jump at midnight, much more than anyone expected. George Murphy with Consumers for Fair Gas Prices was predicting just over a 2 cent a litre increase when Nova Scotia's regulatory system adjusted pump prices overnight. Instead prices shot up 5.9 cents to $1.27.7. Murphy's not sure what that happened but he's still convinced prices won't rise over $1.30 this summer while Wilson's Dave Collins was predicting $1.20 prices. This spring some analysts were predicting prices in the dollar fifty range. Still a long summer ahead.
Have a great weekend. Get involved. And if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.