Nova Scotia Power Inc. ( ) is a power
generating and delivery company in Nova Scotia.
It is privately owned by Emera
( ) and regulated by the provincial government
via the NSUARB.
The Nova Scotia Power Commission
was formed in
1919 by the provincial government, following the lead of several
other Canadian provinces in establishing Crown corporation
The commission constructed and opened its first hydro plant at
Throughout the 1920s-1960s the commission grew as private and
municipal owned hydro plants and electrical utilities went bankrupt
and/or sold their assets. In 1960, Nova Scotia was connected to the
New Brunswick Power Corporation
first electrical inter-connection between provinces in
The commission underwent unprecedented expansion during the late
1960s when five new thermal generating stations were constructed to
meet the growing residential and industrial demand in the
In 1974, the Nova Scotia Power Commission was amalgamated with
Nova Scotia Light and Power Ltd.
Nova Scotia Power Incorporated
(NSPI). As a
provincial Crown corporation, NSPI was often referred to as
Nova Scotia Power Corporation
NSPI opened the world's first tidal
power generating station on the Annapolis River at Annapolis Royal.
This technology, similar to hydroelectric dams
, did not become
In 1992, NSPI was privatized by the provincial government of
Premier Donald Cameron
what was then the largest private equity transaction in Canadian
history. Cameron's government had been under heavy pressure to
control provincial deficits and debt servicing resulting from his
predecessor administrations, thus the controversial decision to
sell the Crown corporation.
On December 2, 1998, NSPI shareholders voted to restructure the
company to create a holding company which would be
shareholder-owned, with the regulated utility being a wholly owned
subsidiary of the holding company. On December 9, 1998, NSPI
received approval to establish NS Power Holdings
and NSPI shareholders exchanged their shares
in NSPI for shares in NS Power Holdings Inc. on a one-to-one basis
on January 1, 1999. Common shares in NS Power Holdings Inc. began
trading on the Toronto Stock
and Montreal Stock
on January 6, 1999. The NS Power Holdings Inc. name
was changed to Emera Incorporated
on July 17,
Emera purchased the Bangor
Hydro Electric Company of Bangor, Maine; Emera was the first Canadian company to purchase
an American utility.
Concerns were raised by the Nova Scotia government regarding the
future of Nova Scotia Power and the province's renewable energy
strategy in the aftermath
of a tentative C$ 4.8 billion deal for the sale of most assets of
, on October 29, 2009.
provincial government is concerned the deal could affect its plan
to develop renewable energy sources for exports to New England
Grid investment and maintenance issue
In the wake of major winter storms in 2004,, NS Power came under
increasing criticism from the Union of Nova Scotia
, energy-oriented public interest groups, and
provincial political parties for a perceived lack of investment in
the monitoring, preventive maintenance and instrumenting of its
electric grid. A study was eventually commissioned from SNC-Lavelin
to explore a "regional system
operator" to relieve NS Power of the control of the grid itself
NS Power grid reliability as 2009 election issue
Criticisms had intensified meanwhile; NS Power performance was an
explicit campaign issue in the Nova Scotia general election,
, notably from Liberal leader Stephen McNeil
- "...they take $100M out of NS ... put it in California,
Maine... don't re-invest... in the infrastructure of this
Incumbent Premier Rodney MacDonald
- "...maintenance issues have caused a lot of problems, a lot
of outages... when there's no need. If the proper
maintenance had been done, people wouldn't be faced with that
situation, and it's unacceptable."
When NSP president Rob Bennett endorsed a New Democratic Party
campaign plank to
remove provincial sales tax from electricity bills , McNeil cited
it as a reason to oppose the NDP, and accused NSP of seeking to
raise rates to fill the gap, then portraying this as an overall
reduction in rates due to the tax cut.
As NS implemented its climate and demand side management
NSP became involved in controversies on whether the utility could
be trusted to administer a province-wide conservation program
designed to prevent having to build any new large power plant. Its
"integrated resource plan" of 2007 "indicated that energy
conservation is an important element to meet the future electricity
needs of Nova Scotia. NS Power began implementing Energy Efficiency
& Conservation programs (EEC) for customers in 2008."
At about the same time, Conserve
was formed as a supervisory body to encourage such
programs and execute the province's energy strategy.
In May 2009 the Nova Scotia government sought also to establish an
independent body to oversee conservation programs, curtailed by the
call of the 2009 election.
In June 2009 NSP proposed a fixed charge to pay for conservation
programs to raise $23M it could spend on reducing electricity
demand. According to Alan Richardson, VP of commercial operations,
80 million kilowatt-hours and 60,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent would
be removed, and ordinary customers would see paybacks for the fixed
fees within three years due to fuel savings alone.
The province had put the conservation programs to tender via
Conserve NS. This came under criticism as an increased charge that
would affect conservers and wasters both equally, and thus
discourage conservation. Chair of NS Union of Municipalities
critics of NSP had previously taken some issue with this model, as
high fixed charges to pay for power utility infrastructure had not
generally encouraged conservation in Ontario, and utilities were in
conflict of interest. The proposal however was for a small $12/year
charge and received no opposition.
Receiving more attention was the postponement of conservation
programs for large commercial electricity users. NSP was accused of
explicit conflicts of interest, being both the vendor of
electricity and also administrator of programs that, if successful,
would result in selling fewer watts. Richardson claimed that
$1/month would cover this loss, but John Merrick, a consumer
advocate, questioned whether estimates of lost revenues should be
the basis for fixed charges.
- "...the company seems to want to set up automatic price
adjustment mechanism to operate yearly, with annual programs
cranking up prices."
Merrick proposed that "cost of equipment, facilities, structure,
staffing" must be recovered "through application for higher rates"
and that NSP shareholders not ratepayers must bear the risk of
company decisions of what to invest in.
Grid operations and maintenance; related communications
By 2009, neighboring public utilities NB
and Newfoundland and Labrador
significantly upgraded their facilities to so-called
" with 100-megabit networks.
These supported real time testing 
and, in Newfoundland, let the utility
also deliver voice and data services to customers. Aliant XWave
, IT contractor to both, touted its
achievements in these other Atlantic provinces as being more
advanced than the many other utilities it worked with. NS Power by
contrast had no such over-arching plan and fell under increasing
criticism especially during the 2009 election for that.
In Newfoundland, charges for voice and data services were to pay
for grid upgrades. In New Brunswick, the upgrade was paid for by
maintenance cost savings. These models were cited as alternatives
to fixed fees per customer in the June 2009 NSP hearings, and by
critics of NSP in the last days of the 2009 election
Lingan Generating Station
Point Tupper Generating Station.
NSPI has a generating capacity of 2,293 megawatts and produces
13,000 gigawatt hours of electricity each year. It operates a
variety of generating stations using various sources of
Annapolis Royal Generating
- Victoria Junction
- Tuft's Cove
NSPI also purchases energy from independent power producers who
generate electricity using wind, hydro and biomass. Most notably
the wind farm at Pubnico Point.
- Bowater, Liverpool
- Michelin, Bridgewater, Granton and
- Neenah Paper (formerly Kimberly
Clark), Abercrombie point
- Intertape Polymer Group/Engineered Coated Products
There are six municipal utilities in the province:
- Antigonish Electric Utility
- Berwick Electric Light Commission
- Canso Electric Light Commission
- Lunenburg Electric Utility
- Mahone Bay Electric Utility
- Riverport Electric Light Commission
NS Power Inc. enjoys a tenuous relationship with its customers
after coming under fire for rate increases that the public views as
unfair, especially in times of economic turmoil. Justification for
the rate increases was presented to the NSUARB in mid-2008, and
accepted a few months later. Other issues of contention are the
frequency and duration of outages during storms and otherwise,
especially in the metro Halifax region.