The Utility and Review Board is scheduled to begin hearings today on Nova Scotia Power's latest rate hike request. The utility wants to increase rates 3% in 2013 and another 3% the following year. But NSP and some of the province's biggest industrial users have been negotiating a behind the scenes deal on power rates and have asked the Board to delay the hearing by a day. I don't like the sounds of a backroom deal, especially considering the questions about whether the power corp has done all it can to reduce costs. NSP prez Rob Bennet insists they have, and any deal would still have to be okay'd by the UARB, but closed door talks with the utility's largest customers leave the average ratepayer without a say and that's simply not acceptable.
Score one for the ratepayer yesterday. The UARB has ruled Nova Scotia Power must release the full, un-redacted audit done by the Liberty Consulting Group. The power corp wanted to keep the redacted portions of the report a secret but the provincial regulator says "public interest in disclosure outweighs private confidentiality. The audit concluded NSP overspent $22 million on fuel in the last two years and owes its customers a refund. Nova Scotia Power continues to insist the audit was wrong and even defamatory. It however will not appeal the decision. Conservative leader Jamie Baillie had earlier asked the board to make the audit public. He says the decision now forces the power company to answer to the people who pay the bills and if NSP indeed overspent, ratepayers deserve a refund now.
Cheap shots. That's how outgoing police chief Frank Beazley describes the criticism yesterday about his handling of violent crime in the city. Ex-cop Jim Hoskins, he's running for a city council seat in Spryfield, says Beazley has failed "miserably" to deal with the city's ongoing violence. Beazley was especially candid on my News 95.7 afternoon radio show yesterday. He admits he's made mistakes over his tenure as chief, but he denies the allegation and fired back with some of his own vitriol. Beazley's last day on the job will be a week tomorrow. RCMP superintendent Jean Michel Blais has been named his replacement.
Pollster Don Mills continues to ask HRM residents their thoughts on amalgamation and his latest survey again indicates support to split the municipality in two. Over half of the city's residents favour a split. Those numbers have been fairly consistent over the years, but city hall rejects the idea of a breakup. Corporate Research's latest opinion poll also indicates support to change of name of the Halifax Regional Municipality to simply Halifax. Again, over half support it. Few people refer to us as HRM and changing the name to Halifax would only reflect that. Something for the new city council to deal with after next month's elections.
Would whoever stole the dummies please return them. Halifax police are investigating the theft of a couple of mannequins from stores in the Bayers Lake Business Park over the weekend. Apparently they were simply carried out during business hours. Police say they've linked the thefts to a scavenger hunt by Citadel High students and have spoken to the organizers. The store owners say they won't pursue criminal charges if the dummies are returned.
Have a great day. Get involved. And if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention