Stephen McNeil’s Brownout

Before the summer break, a Liberal supporter asked us to write a post about what we thought of the Liberal proposal to transfer the costs of Efficiency Nova Scotia from “consumers” to “shareholders”.

Right now, in addition to the tax taken off your power bill, there is a charge for energy efficiency programs that reduce your power usage. The Liberals believe this is a “tax”, and say people who own stock in Emera, the “shareholders”, should pay.

The problem? It’s a Liberal shell game. If the cost is not on power bills, it would be paid for through increased rates.

Efficiency Nova Scotia is independent of both Nova Scotia Power and the Nova Scotia government. Losing that independent status would make its moves political ones – that would be a mistake.

And giving control of Efficiency Nova Scotia to Emera? As Christopher Majka pointed out in his Chronicle Herald editorial:

Transferring funding of Efficiency Nova Scotia to NSP would be self-defeating… NSP is in the business of selling power (thus increasing consumption), not conserving it… Keeping Efficiency Nova Scotia independent keeps it honest and focused on the objective of reducing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency and conservation in Nova Scotia. This saves money for consumers.

Majka points out that saving electricity costs 2.5 cents per kw/hr. That’s a lot less than imported coal. Energy efficiency keeps money in your wallet, and away from NS Power, in addition to being good for the environment.

From a political perspective, it is important to note that Efficiency Nova Scotia is regulated by the URB and its cost (not a “tax,” but a cost for the service ENS provides) was set by the URB. Despite McNeil’s claims, the NDP government doesn’t control the agency, which is a non-profit corporation with no formal links to the government.

Is Stephen McNeil in over his head on energy policy? His latest TV commercial, which says he will break the power monopoly by allowing multiple companies to sell power to consumers, suggests he may very well be. That plan flopped in other provinces.

Send us your feedback out McNeil’s energy plan. We’ll print the best responses next week.