Stephen McNeil’s Brownout, Part II

Stephen McNeil is in over his head on energy policy.

The Nova Scotia Liberals, convinced an election is imminent, are running a commercial saying they will “break Nova Scotia Power’s monopoly”. As we have written before, opening up the electricity market to competition sounds good. Unfortunately, as California has seen, there is risk. Free-market competition – viable for awhile in California – ended in brownouts and bankruptcy.

As Darrell Dexter pointed out in the Chronicle Herald:

Deregulation has been a disaster everywhere it’s been tried. In Ontario, the Harris-Eves government was forced to back off of its plan to deregulate after power rates rose 30 per cent in seven short months — in some cases up to 70 per cent. A scrambling government put taxpayers on the hook for $480 million of a $1.36-billion artificial price cap. Ontario became a net importer of electricity.

While the some Liberals protested that they never actually used the word ‘deregulation’, their plan is either that, or nothing much at all. McNeil should leave talking about electricity to MLA Andrew Younger, who has a better grasp of the issue.

We asked readers to send us their opinions on Stephen McNeil’s electricity plan. Here are the best three:

Will the Liberals’ commercial actually backfire on the party as people take a closer look at Stephen McNeil’s leadership capabilities? As conservative Rob Batherson pointed out, when McNeil repeatedly makes comparisons to telephone deregulation and electricity monopolies, he invites the conclusion of deregulation.

Is this the chance for Baillie to differentiate himself from McNeil? Both ramp up rhetoric against unions, both criticize the move to renewable energy, both suck up to the Fraser Institute. But Banker Baillie on the pocketbook issues would clean the Liberal’s clock.

The Liberals electricity plan will cost us dearly. No one likes Nova Scotia Power. Not the NDP, not the Liberals, not the Tories who privatized it in the first place. But adding to that mistake is not an option. The only one way to get cheap power is to move from expensive coal to stable renewable energy.