May 12th, 2022

Action on power bills needed

HALIFAX – Even as warmer weather returns to Nova Scotia, people remain concerned about the cost to heat, cool, and light their homes. Nova Scotia Power’s 10 per cent rate increase application is making its way through the UARB process, and despite promising to do so the Houston government failed to make legislative changes to protect ratepayers in the spring session.

Today, the NDP launched a new form to collect stories from people across the province on the impacts of higher and higher power bills. People can share their stories at: nsndp.ca/survey/your-power-bills/.

“People are struggling to pay their power bills, especially as the cost of living, food and housing soar. We want to hear from people about the impact that higher power bills will have on their lives,” said Claudia Chender, NDP Natural Resources and Renewables spokesperson.

Last week at the Public Accounts Committee, both the Deputy Minister and representatives from Nova Scotia Power supported the idea of a universal service program that would allow the UARB to include affordability as a criteria for setting power rates.

In a submission to the Law Amendments Committee, the Affordable Energy Coalition’s Brian Gifford explained why a universal services program is needed:

“The fact is that low income households have precarious access to electricity now. Inadequate income is the primary reason for disconnection of electrical service. Arrears build up. Low income households are forced to use food banks or to stop buying medicine so they can pay electricity bills. Or they lose their electricity which means they can’t store or prepare food or lead a normal life. In some cases they cannot heat their homes.”

Chender has proposed a suite of legislation that would have helped lower people’s power bills and address the climate emergency. The Houston government voted against an NDP amendment to the Public Utilities Act which would have permitted NS Power to create a universal service program. The NDP has intervenor status in the upcoming UARB hearing process.