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I have just read the comment posted by “pm” on 3/3/13. The main reason why the Crown Corp NSPower was privitised was because in about 10/12 of operationyears they had accumulated a deficit that was approx $2.5B. The company that was taken over was Nova Scotia Light&Power a successful investor owned company which served approximately 50% of electric customers in Nova Scotia. Interestingly its electric rates were less than those of the government’s NS Power Commission! The accumulated deficit was understandably a serious problem for the PC government of the day because it added to the accumulated debt of the province. The privitisation undertaken relieved the province of this debt and in turn it was assumed by the new NSPower and importantly as a financial risk by those investors who initially purchased shares in the company. The subsequent corporate changes that have brought us Emera organisation is in my opinion a good thing. It has provided Nova Scotians and many others across Canada an important investment opportunity as well as providing many good paying jobs in our province and in other countries. I must however note that while I am not opposed per se to the Muskrat Falls/Maritime Link proposal, I do believe it is absolutely essential that it must be evaluated in concert with a competitive proposal from Hydro-Quebec and NBPower. Regrettably the NS government’s Maritime Link Act has made the requirement of approval by the URB an unnecessary and expensive examination.
Bill P | May 17, 2013 | Reply
Your thinking on the problems we face is most welcome, and I usually agree with what you have to say. But sometimes you need to get your head out of the business box!
Government is not business, and in this case I’m thinking of government’s responsibility to ensure that basic infrastructure is in place. Look at our railway connection only available a few times a week, rocking along to Montreal at 60 km/hour! Sea connection always
in doubt. No pipeline to bring Alberta oil here. The undersea cable would be a welcome step in this otherwise dismal
Regarding Hydro-Quebec, how can we have a proper country when one province is allowed to beggar another over several generations? Why
should generations of Newfoundlanders have to pay so dearly for Smallwood’s mistake? Natural justice sometimes has to take precedence over legal niceties.
Keep those columns coming!
Peter Fillmore | March 4, 2013 | Reply
Lets remember that NS just acquired a power utility and decided to sell it right away .
Lets remember that Hydro Quebec is government owned and so long as the separatists are around , let alone in power , HQ remains a symbol of Quebec nationalism, and a pawn in the hands of the Quebec government . They need every dollar they can get as should equalization payments to Quebec ( think they get $8 billion now) ever get reduced , they’ll be in big trouble, SO no matter what electricity we may think they have , we are better off if we do not have to buy from them .
Why would you even consider a supplier that is subject to such a political agenda and also rather financially risky , contract or no contract.
What if Hydro Quebec gets in a cash crunch? Who do they borrow from ??
How often has Quebec not negotiated in good faith with Ontario about inter-provincial workers, contractors and even connecting provincial highways and bridges? How many Nova Scotia companies are working in Quebec as compared to the number of Quebec companies working/that have worked in NS .??
NS opted to get out of the electricity business way back when,and it wasn’t an NDP government that made that bright move and , now has to live with that, and even worse we now don’t even have any surplus cash to buy shares in an electricity company to any extent anymore . I think we need to know just how many more windmills or gas generation plants we need to reach the same objective of getting off coal and importing less electricity, and then maybe we can better decide if this Muskrat Fall option is all that bad .
PM | March 3, 2013 | Reply
Dexter is like a car salesman talking to a customer but refusing to reveal the price he wants for the car in question. Hopefully, there will be an election before this deal is closed and we will either know the price per kWhr for the ordinary consumer or we will elect a new government.
I voted NDP in the last election because my MLA was Graham Steele and I trusted his judgement. I don’t know who the NDP will put in his place, but unless he has the papal infallibility, I don’t think they have a chance of earning my vote. Dexter has just gone off in too many directions and spent money on questionable projects too often. Dexter seems drunk with power. I suspect that had a great deal to do with Graham resigning. This time I’ll be voting Liberal or Conservative. I suspect Jamie is the most technically qualified candidate for Premier but McNeil seems to have the best ideas when it comes to NS Power.
Here’s a suggestion for a new article: The Nova Scotia Liquor Commission has barely increased it’s sales revenues since 2002, but it’s operating costs have increased by about 50% since then. In anything but a monopoly, the management would have been fired a long time ago.
Jon Coates | March 3, 2013 | Reply
Read your article on line this morning in the Herald. I couldn’t agree more. Seldom do you read anything these days that has any resemblence to reality, but you nailed it. I would have loved to been selling to these guys when I was pushing radio equipment, they would no doubt refused any discount!! Love your column, keep it up.
Don Fader | March 3, 2013 | Reply
Greg thanks for this. My thinking has tended to move in the same direction but I suspect there are pitfalls that need to be negotiated.
Bill Black | March 3, 2013 | Reply
I haven’t heard the ads but enjoyed reading your comments. As always, your writing advances the thinking that needs to be given to this important aspect of our economy. Taxes and energy costs are crippling growth prospects for our economy.
Establishing a competitive landscape for energy production is key to rate stability for the consumer.
My thinking is that the transmission and power production components of the business need to be restructured. The transmission component needs to be at arms length from the power production business. The transmission business should be operated on cost plus basis with regulatory oversight on operating and capital activity as well as service performance.
Power production should no longer be given a guaranteed rate of return, rather there should exist an operating model allows independent competitive power producers to compete for the end consumer’s business. My thinking is that power producers need to own the relationship with the end customer and pay a subscriber fee to the transmission business for service delivery. Consumers should be free to buy from whoever they choose, independent of geographic location and usage.
The transmission business would need to provide the oversight to ensure producers are meeting their client’s service demands. Likely, a penalty framework would be required to ensure no service for the consumer. As well, a framework would be required to ensure power producers comply with environmental and regulatory requirements.
Again, thank you for the interesting piece.
Greg O'Malley | March 3, 2013 | Reply
Emera, and Irving, can play Dexter like a fiddle because they know he will, and is, giving away the store for any headlines prior to the election. He may even think one of them might award him a seat on their corporate board even if he does lose the election. Unfortunately for us, Dexter is no Frank Mckenna, Peter Lougheed, nor Brad Wahl. Emera knows Dexter is desparate right now and they are pressing for everything they can get before a potential change of gov’t.
Emera wants the Link so they can sell power to New England. Dexter wants the Link so the NDP have an outside chance of winning an election. Neither one could care less about the health of the NS economy. The Link that needs to be severed is Emera’s total control of NSP. Until then, we are not going to get an unbiased assessment of alternative power sources, and are in extreme danger of ending up with another Hydro Que.- type contract that locks us in for the next 40yrs.
John | March 2, 2013 | Reply
Dexter has forgotten one important business principle and that is to sort out if you are the buyer or the seller . If you are the buyer , then you hold the money that the seller wants . From then on, it’s all about how you negotiate the purchase. Trouble is here that the developer/the seller made the proposal before the buyer /the province knew what it needed to buy . So instead of of being in a strong position , Dexter is in a weak position. The sellers , Emera ,NSP , Nalcor etc hold all the cards . The fact Dexter did not make any allowance for Quebec to bid was caused by the fact there was simply no request from NS . Now why is NS as a province so involved in the first place ?? Who asked them ? Who are they to say this is the best deal for Nova Scotians??? Is Dexter investing my money now in a power company ??? Is he buying shares ???
As for Quebec, history says that they cannot stop threatening to separate and that they always “want” , so is that the kind of partner you’d like to be depending on ??, contract or no contract .
Just as this eastern pipeline talk . Bring it from Ontario though the USA along the new highway between NB and Ontario through the USA . Built both projects at once . Imagine the economic advantage of a much shorter link from the Maritimes to Ontario . Lets get that rail link back though Maine too .
PS | March 2, 2013 | Reply
Maritime link 186/mw, present coal fired generation capacity 1,280/mw where is the additional capacity to come from? Darrell and Charlie can only generate so much hot air, even for those two the task at hand is too great.
johnny smoke | March 1, 2013 | Reply
I think something that gets lost in the argument of Muscrat Falls Vs Hydro Quebec is the fact that both will require practically the same capital on the part of Nova Scotians to get these sources of Hydro Power. Quebec Hydro is currently engaged in two long distance transmission projects that are indeed costing 1.5 billion dollars. One is from a new Hydro dam project in Northern Quebec providing 800 Mgw to Quebec City while the other will hook up Boston to Quebec Power. With Hydro Quebec Power Nova Scotians will have to remember that we will have to make access deals with Irving Forestry and others who have three large blocks of forest that transmission corridors will have to be cut through. I am not totally pro muscrat falls as we could probably change over our Coal Fired plants to Natural Gas and frack our own in the layers of Shale beneath Northern Nova Scotia. Shale oil was once produced at MacLellans Brook in Pictou Country from formations that you can see from the Trans Canada Highway outside New Glasgow. This was the Saudi Arabia of OIL in the late 1800s until Pennsylvania Oil was discovered underground in the very place Fracked Natural Gas is changing the energy portfolio of America.
Paul | March 1, 2013 | Reply
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